The Benefits of Pet Therapy
There is extensive research that shows seniors benefit from owning a pet, but this is not always possible for those living in an assisted living facility. At Paradise Living Centers, we partner with Hospice of the Valley pet therapy services, which brings trained and certified dogs to interact with the residents at least once a week. On these visits, residents have an opportunity to spend time with the dogs and enjoy their company.
Interaction with pets is known to have a number of therapeutic and health benefits including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Help overcoming grief and loneliness
- Aids in weight management
- Stress management
- Psychological and physical relaxation
Alan Beck, director of the Center for Human-Animal bond at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine found that placing a fish tank in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s residents helped them hold their interest while they were eating, resulting in weight gain. Weight loss is a concern for sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease.
Pets require nurturing and in many cases those living in assisted living facilities no longer have the opportunity to nurture others. Being around animals can remind residents that they were once caregivers and this can bring about psychological and physical relaxation, suggests Beck’s research. As humans we are incredibly tactile and feel loved and rewarded through touch.
Pet therapy does not directly manage hypertension per se, but there is research that proves there is a physiological reaction to animals. In other words, the actual act of petting the animal can help reduce the causes of hypertension.
Animals also have the ability to evoke laughter, which in turn helps to manage stress. A lot of seniors experience stress as a result of loneliness. Having the animals come visit for pet therapy aids in focusing the attention of residents, particularly those with dementia, keeping them in the present.
To learn more about the benefits of pet therapy and pet ownership read Beck’s book, Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship. To find out more about the activities and services we provide our residents at Paradise Living Centers come visit our home or contact Kristie Chadwick at 602-550-1247.