Pet therapy for seniors is a fun interaction between a senior adult and an animal to help improve their quality of life.
Have you ever pet any animal? If so, you know the joy they bring. Studies show that bonding with any animal helps with physical, psychological, and emotional health.
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don’t even know we have.” -Thom Jones, American writer
Having a pet or engagging in pet therapy are best especially for seniors because of the benefits they bring such as:
Provides comfort after moving to a senior living community
Increases mental health
Lowers blood pressure
Improves heart health
Makes workouts more enjoyable
Improves communication with senior adults who have dementia or autism
Sources: Alliance of Therapy Dogs, National Center for Biotechnology Information, NPR
Dogs and cats are most commonly used for this program, but other animals can be used to. The type of animal that’s paired with the senior adult depends with the therapeutic goals of each person’s needs.
Here are Some Requirements to Become a Pet Therapists
Physical examination of the animal to confirm it’s healthy
Instructional course for the trainer
Evaluation of the animal’s temperament and behavior
Certification from the sponsoring organization
Who Could Benefit from Pet Therapy?
Pet therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue in people with a range of health problems, including:
People with Dementia
Individuals in long-term care facilities
Those who are receiving cancer or invasive treatments
People with cardiovascular diseases
Children or adults having dental procedures
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder
Source: Mayo Clinic
With pet therapy, family members, friends, and even staff who sit in on animal visits say they feel better, too.
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Health Center for Health Statistics show that nearly 60% of hospice care providers that provide alternative therapies offer pet therapy to patients.
Source: Alliance of Therapy Dogs
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