Aquariums have long been known to help lower stress and anxiety levels by creating a stunning natural environment within any room – which can be particularly therapeutic for elderly people, including those suffering with dementia.
Fish tanks bring life, colour and calm to any room and as well as reducing stress, they have been shown to help with mental stimulation, particularly for people with dementia or other similar conditions. Here are five of the reasons why aquariums are good for elderly people:
Reduction of stress and anxiety symptoms
The colours and movement of fish create a beautiful focal point to look at and admire in any indoor setting. Research has shown that seniors who spend time watching a fish tank find it incredibly relaxing.
Spending time watching fish has been proven to be mesmerising for seniors, helping them to relax instantly, lowering blood pressure and relieving stress, proving incredibly beneficial for their health. Installing an aquarium within a nursing home setting has proven to be beneficial for elderly residents in several studies.
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Improvement to heart health
Being around a fish tank has also been proven to slow down a resting heart rate which, combined with reduced blood pressure, can really help to support cardiac health for senior citizens. This potential impact on heart health has been revealed in numerous studies.
In one study it was shown that even looking at a fish tank which only contained water, rocks and plants, still had a soothing and calming effect helping to lower blood pressure, although adding fish multiplied the effect considerably.
Sarah from Aquacadabra said: “The mere fact of owning fish and having something to be responsible for can be beneficial to health, so for elderly people in their own homes, having a fish tank to look after can bring multiple health benefits”.
Boost to memory and attention
It has been shown in numerous studies that elderly people with dementia respond incredibly positively to having an aquarium in their environment. They have been reported to concentrate on the fish for up to half an hour when they are unable to focus their attention on other things for very long.
It is thought the movement, colour and sound of the water helps dementia sufferers to focus their attention for longer time periods than they could normally manage, proving that aquariums can have significant impact.
Studies have also shown that patients with Alzheimer’s also benefit from fish tanks, becoming happier and talkative – it shows that the fish help to reduce or slow the impact of decline in cognitive function.
Better quality of life
Having an aquarium, with all of the health benefits, leads to a better overall quality of life for the elderly, improving feelings of relaxation and happiness overall. Having a happy outlook in life and improved relaxation improves quality of life overall.
For residents in nursing homes, with busy noisy environments, being able to focus on the calm, quiet of an aquarium proved to be incredibly beneficial in many ways, including creating feelings of happiness and overall wellbeing.
A study also showed that watching fish swimming in an aquarium can impact on people’s moods, which is one of the reasons they are often featured in healthcare settings where people are anxious, such as waiting rooms at doctors or dentists offices.
For the elderly, this impact on mood improvement can help with patients suffering from depression or other mood problems due to their conditions. They also help to bring a bit of the outdoors inside, which can be really beneficial for elderly patients with limited mobility, who can’t go out.
For elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, an aquarium can provide a wide range of health benefits from improved memory, better concentration levels, reduced stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure, to name but a few.
And for elderly people living alone, owning a fish tank and having responsibility for the fish can help to improve mood and feelings of wellbeing, with studies to prove these benefits are real and tangible.
Fish tanks have long been featured in places where people needed to remain calm, such as waiting rooms, because of the relaxing effect of watching fish, but now researchers have proven that fish tanks can bring so much more, particularly for elderly people.
When setting up new nursing or care homes, perhaps thought should be given during the décor and equipment installation phases, to having fish tanks installed in rooms where residents can go for some peace and quiet and to benefit from the calming impact which these creatures have on all of us.
While there seem to be particular benefits for the elderly population, there can be no doubt that we can all benefit from the joy and wonder at watching beautiful fish swimming.