Pet therapy has become an increasingly popular therapy method used in hospitals. More and more frequently, we are seeing animal-assisted therapy occurring for seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It makes sense: the comfort of pets can have a very positive effect on a senior’s physical health and mental well-being. To find out more, read on as we delve into four benefits that pet therapy provides for seniors.
Positive Health Benefits
Have you ever felt a surge of positive energy when a dog welcomes you? Studies have shown that minutes after petting a dog, you can experience increased levels of serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical that is responsible for mood balance and has been proven to increase your happiness levels and decrease depression. Also, spending time with pets has been shown to improve anxiety levels, lower their blood pressure, and even has the ability to reduce chronic pain.
Love and Companionship
Pets make fantastic companions for seniors. This can be very beneficial for seniors who live on their own and are often lonely, especially for those that have become withdrawn socially or suffer from memory problems. Pets can help provide a sense of friendship, routine, and stability in their lives. Taking care of the pet often comes with responsibility and allows for seniors to feel useful, gaining a larger sense of pride and self-worth.
Boost in Activity
For many seniors, activity doesn’t come easily. It’s likely that an older adult will spend minimal time exercising and more time sedentary. Not when you have a pet! Daily walks, feeding, grooming, and playing all require energy. Seniors can achieve their daily dose of recommended exercise by owning a pet, and it may also help for some to get out more and talk to other pet owners that share the same interests and hobbies.
Safety and Security
Seniors are often stressed about their own safety. This is where a pet can help provide a layer of security to any home. When a thief hears a dog barking they are much more likely to steer clear from the home. People looking to do wrong will think twice when they know a pet is around, allowing for some extra peace of mind.
Pet therapy is one of the best ways to help seniors stay healthy, feel positive, and get them to be more social. So, if you are teetering on the decision of adopting a new furry companion for your aging parents or friend, just remember that there are plenty of positive benefits associated with pet ownership at any age. Especially for seniors.