Pet therapy is a diverse type of therapy that involves facilitating human interactions with animals as part of a therapy approach. According to research, pet therapy can help patients recover from various health issues. In addition, for older adults, pet therapy has proven to be a beneficial practice.
A variety of communities—including Elder Care Alliance communities—offer pet therapy as part of their health and wellness programs. In addition to helping people with physical, mental, or emotional illnesses, pet therapy can also provide fun and entertainment for seniors. In addition, many people appreciate that pets are not judgmental and capable of immense love and affection.
Benefits of Pet Therapy
Pet therapy is associated with many different benefits. Here is a brief overview of how pet therapy may help the older adults in your life.
- Provide mental stimulation: Playing with pets is a mentally stimulating activity. In addition, interacting with animals is a great way to improve verbalization. Even non-verbal seniors can enjoy the benefits of silent communication with animals.
- Decrease anxiety: There is a reason dogs are emotional support animals. They know how to recognize signs of anxiety humans can’t detect in others. In addition, well-trained and well-mannered dogs have a calming presence that can help people with anxiety feel more relaxed and at ease.
- Help people with memory disorders recall specific memories: Animal-assisted therapy for cognitive and memory skills may involve helping the patient remember the pet’s breed or name and give basic commands to it.
- Reduce loneliness: It is not uncommon for seniors to feel lonely once their children are grown and living in their own homes. Pets make excellent companion animals because they can fill a need for emotional connection and support.
- Lower blood pressure: Pet therapy can lower blood pressure, perhaps because it helps alleviate excessive stress and anxiety.
- Trigger the release of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) that boost mood: Interacting with animals can stimulate the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that boost mood.
- Reduce overall physical pain: The exact cause isn’t fully understood, but research shows that pet therapy can reduce physical pain.
- Improved motor skills: Giving animals treats, petting them, and interacting with them can help to improve motor skills in seniors. Additionally, walking a pet involves using larger muscles in the torso, arms, and legs and can strengthen and improve coordination.
These are all the potential benefits your loved one can experience with exposure to pet therapy. Though some people don’t like pets and wouldn’t respond well to this therapy, many people look forward to their pet therapy treatments excitedly. In addition, different forms of pet therapy can be tailored to the needs of your loved one.
Sometimes it may take unconventional methods to help your senior loved one enjoy the highest quality of life possible. For more information about pet therapy and the other types of treatment available to seniors in Elder Care Alliance communities, contact Elder Care Alliance today.