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Horse Therapy Helps Dementia, Alzheimer’s Patients On Long Island

Program Lets Residents Socialize, Reminisce And Be Physically Active
A patient takes part in horse therapy at HorseAbility at the SUNY Old Westbury campus (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

A patient takes part in horse therapy at HorseAbility at the SUNY Old Westbury campus (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Horse therapy is benefiting dementia and Alzheimer’s patients on Long Island.

Eight residents of the Bristal Assisted Living Communities have been taking part in a unique program at the stables at HorseAbility on the SUNY Old Westbury campus.

The program lets the residents, who range in age from 84 to 93, to socialize, reminisce and take part in light physical activity, according to a press release.

“Reminiscing is a big thing and what a great thing to be successful in remembering things,” said Kate Schneider of Bristal Assisted Living Communities.

Experts said the therapy can help patients overcome anxiety and depression, build self-confidence, increase coordination, balance and muscle strength, and improve interpersonal relationships because of the special bond formed with the horses.

“When I was a kid my father’s friend had a farm in Ohio and that’s where we went,” an 88-year-old patient named Stella told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “They left us all summer with the animals and the horses so I love them.”

Bristal staff members said they have noticed a change in residents who participate in the program, including improvements in social skills, patience, trust, compassion and team work.

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