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Pets provide companionship and emotional support to seniors, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Studies continually demonstrate that pet owners experience better overall health, reduced stress levels, and increased happiness. Pets also provide other intangibles.
"Dogs - and other pets - live very much in the here and now. They don't worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people," - Dr Jay P. Granat, Psychotherapist.
Sadly, it is not feasible for all residents in care homes to own pets, making organized visits an excellent alternative.
Pets provide one of the few interventions capable of permanently lifting the atmosphere of long-term care homes.
This stems from multiple factors, including increased physical exercise, enhanced socialization, and improved mental functioning from the responsibility of their care.
Pets serve as catalysts for increased activity levels among the elderly, particularly dogs, who help establish an active routine and provide a motivating reason to get up in the morning.
Visiting pets may not be suitable for everyone. It is recommended to include participants who have a fondness for pets or have owned pets in the past. Some individuals may have allergies to pet fur, fear animals, or harbor specific dislikes towards certain animals, making them uncomfortable during such activities.
Related: Pet Therapy with a Dog
Note: Robotic pets may be more suitable for residents in the advanced stages of dementia.
Even though many facilities do not allow residents to live with their own pets, most of them will embrace pets through alternative means, including:
In cases where having a pet of your own or arranging pet visits is not feasible, an alternative worth considering is pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT). This therapeutic approach involves purposeful interactions between humans and trained animals, usually dogs or cats, with the goal of promoting physical, emotional, and social well-being.
Conducted by healthcare professionals or trained volunteers, pet therapy is a structured intervention that aims to enhance individuals' overall quality of life by harnessing the positive impact of human-animal interactions.
Pets in nursing homes bring joy, companionship, and improved well-being to residents, creating a vibrant and fulfilling environment.
We'd love to hear your feedback.
What has been your experience with pets in senior living communities?
This would be a good question to ask our Facebook group