During trying times, while senior living communities are under quarantine, those with pets are enjoying the benefits of pet therapy more than ever before. It is well known that interaction with our furry friends has significant health benefits. Dogs and cats are most commonly used for pet therapy but, birds and robotic simulating animals are also for this type of therapy. Pet therapy is the interaction between a person and a trained animal. Bonding with a friendly pet can help with a variety of physical and mental issues. Studies indicate that those who spend regular time with pets often have lower blood pressure and triglyceride counts. So what are some of the benefits of pet therapy? As a reminder, all photos and videos posted on this page were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Insufficient social relationships can be a cause of one’s loneliness. Especially in quarantine, it is common for people in assisted living and memory care facilities to show signs of loneliness. Studies have shown that pet therapy can decrease pain, respiratory rate, negative moods and increase energy levels. Pet therapy is one of the many low-tech, low-cost holistic therapies that improve mood and are meaningful to seniors.
Improves Social Skills
Pet therapy has shown positive results for individuals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. A study conducted at the Veterans Hospital presented, “Residents had more verbal interactions with each other when a dog was present in the room than when there was no dog present.” Pets can be a great way for care providers to start up conversations and can awaken memories for individuals in memory care. It also provides them with a substitute of social interaction when human contact needs to be limited.
Provides a Sense of Purpose
It has become a necessity for the elderly population to socially isolate themselves from family and outings. Studies have shown that pet therapy has the ability to reduce symptoms of depressions and loneliness during these times. Pets provide a sense of purpose because they depend on their owners for food, exercise, and companionship. Taking care of a pet can be a big responsibility and require a daily regimen which can provide structure to the owner’s day. According to NCBI, “responsibility is widely considered important in mental health recovery.”
At Poet’s Walk, a Spring Hills Memory Care Community, our staff have witnessed just how much having a pet enhances the lives and joy of our home care recipients. Our home care providers encourage our clients to interact with their pets which not only enables them to express their nurturing side but also provides comfort, fulfillment and a sense of purpose in their lives. To learn more about the benefits of pet therapy and our PAW Program, click here to contact your local community.