Pet Therapy For The Elderly

Pets are a source of happiness. They provide unconditional love, comfort, and companionship. Therapy animals can help seniors with dementia to feel less depressed.

Pets are not only great companions but also offer significant health benefits for their owners.

Studies show that pet owners are happier, healthier, and less stressed. Unfortunately, not all residents of care facilities can afford one. But it is possible to arrange for a pet dog to visit residents on a regular basis.

Pet Therapy: Only for Pet Lovers!

It is not for everyone. Participants should include residents who are passionate about pets and/or have owned pets in the past. Many people are allergic to fur from pets, have an animal fear, or have particular dislikes and would not be comfortable participating in this activity.

If the dog is a member of the family, it should be appropriate, provided it has a good temperament.

Note: Residents going through late-stage dementia may be better suited with simulated/robotic pets. Simulated pets can move their heads and make noises. Unfortunately, they are rather expensive to purchase however once you have one there is no ongoing expense.

Pet Therapy for the elderly

Pets can help seniors live happier and healthier lives. Regular contact with pets has been proven to increase cognitive function, balance emotions, and increase enthusiasm and interest.

Dogs and other pets live very much in the here and now. They don’t think about tomorrow. For older people, tomorrow can be quite scary. “Having an animal that has a sense of the now can have a tendency to rub off on people”.

Pet Therapy in care Homes

Pets are especially important for people who are in care homes or receive assisted care. Many studies have shown that pets are one of few interventions that can permanently improve the environment in care homes.

Studies in care homes have shown that pets can actually slow down the aging process. This can be achieved by engaging in more physical activity and socialization, as well as increased mental function through the interaction with pets and taking care of them.

Pets can also increase activity levels in the elderly. Dogs are especially helpful because they give people a reason to get out of bed each morning.

What is Pet Therapy?

Pet Therapy can be defined as any combination of animal-assisted therapy and pet therapy. This is a rapidly growing field in care Homes, Hospitals, and Special Schools that helps people to recover from and/or deal with their health problems.

Pet Therapy for Seniors: The Benefits

  • Combat loneliness
  • Feelings of hopelessness are reduced
  • Instill a sense of purpose
  • Activity levels can be increased
  • Stress reduction and depression relief
  • Give people a reason to be independent for as long as they can
  • Positive interactions with pets translate into positive human interactions

Getting started with pet therapy activities

Throw & Fetch – using a Frisbee and rubber ball. Residents can have great interaction within the care home gardens.

Tug of War: A soft toy or towel is given to the dog for him to hold on one side while the resident holds the other.

Bathing – Residents can really enjoy this activity. Bathing dogs every other week in a baby bathtub.

Grooming – Pets love to be groomed and would run to the nearest resident who has a brush.

Last Thoughts…

Regular sessions with professionally trained animals, and their handlers, are what animal therapy entails. It helps people deal with both mental and physical health problems.

Doctors and mental health professionals may recommend or administer animal therapy to treat various conditions. Each person’s goals are different.

Alternative therapies are available for those who don’t like animal therapy or have other reasons.

Anybody considering animal therapy should talk to a doctor about the benefits and risks involved.

If you would like to know more about the different animals we bring into our homes, speak to our team.

Pet Therapy

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