TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Hacienda at the River is a retirement community offering assisted living, memory care, and a horse equine therapy.
Barbara Rector runs the horse program and says these animals can reduce human stress and anxiety levels, as well as increase a person's ability to focus.
"With the experience of the horse we are teaching safe skills or how to be around horses, move with the horse and get that environment," Rector said.
She says when the residents are working with the horses they are able to learn about relationship development and communications skills.
Sue Rein's mother recently moved in and she noticed a big difference in her mother's behavior.
"The biggest difference is her conversational ability," Rein explained. "She was having trouble finding the right word she wanted to say, now you can see it comes pretty easily to her because she was living alone, now she is with people all the time with horses."
"We knew that horses and seniors are a good match," said David Freshwater, Chairman of Watermark. "There are a number of studies that for example with dementia we do have memory care here that just being in the presence of horses helps reduce agitation, maybe reduces the negative effects of Sundowner's Syndrome."
Freshwater says The Hacienda at the River will be fully open at the end of next month.