Has a dog, cat or any animal ever brought a smile to your face? The benefits of spending time with animals can be huge for residents in assisted living communities.
What is Pet Therapy?
According to eMentalHealth.ca, Pet Therapy is a type of therapy that uses animals trained to provide affection and comfort to people in a variety of places including hospitals, schools, mental facilities, and in retirement or assisted living communities.
Visitation therapy, the most common, allows residents to visit with pets and experience the pleasure of having their companionship, without the responsibilities, if even just for a little while. If you have ever enjoyed the company of a pet, you will know that it does not take a long time to start feeling the benefits of their companionship.
Pet Therapy Encourages Social Engagement
A pet is often a great conversation starter, and can often provide common ground with others, especially if it stimulates fond memories. Spending time with animals can allow for residents to tap into their childhood memories of pets and past experiences, leading to social bonds and interactions.
Pet Therapy Lowers Blood Pressure, Reduces Anxiety, and can Offset Feelings of Depression
This effect has been known to be called “The Pet Effect”.
The repetitive stroking and patting of the pet seems to sooth not on the pet, but the resident as well, lowering their heartrate. When their heartrate lowers, so does their blood pressure, thus lowering stress and anxiety levels.
Pet Therapy can offset the feelings of depression mainly by one simple act; they provide unconditional love. They don’t judge, they don’t talk back or offer unwanted advice, they just enjoy the moment and your company.
Pet Therapy Helps Combat Loneliness and Isolation
Many seniors in assisted living communities can suffer from isolation or loneliness, either because friends or family do not visit on a regular basis, or they aren’t as physically active as they once were. Perhaps a loved spouse or companion passed away. Spending time with a pet can bring some withdrawn seniors out of their shells, making them happier and more willing to find new companions to spend time with.
Pet Therapy Helps Your Overall Health
Studies show that seniors who are active, always around others, or have regular contact with a pet decline far less rapidly than isolated or depressed seniors.
The message is clear; being around animals make people feel better, healthier and happier.
Do you have a story you would like to share about how an animal companion helped you? Join us in the conversation by following us on Facebook!
Is someone you love in a care home? We share lots of ideas to help brighten up their day. check out our website for more.