Pet therapy is a type of therapy that uses specially trained animals to provide comfort and companionship to those in need. It has been used for centuries to help people with physical and mental health problems, including seniors.
Benefits of Pet Therapy
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
The presence of a pet can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in seniors, especially those in aged care facilities. Petting an animal can also increase the production of hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with lowering stress levels.
Improve Cognitive Function
Pet therapy may help to improve cognitive function in seniors who may be suffering from memory loss or dementia. Interaction with animals has been found to improve short-term memory recall, language abilities and overall mental alertness in seniors.
Provide Companionship and Connection
Seniors often experience loneliness due to social isolation or the death of a spouse or close friend. Pets provide comfort through companionship that is unconditional and nonjudgmental.
Boost Cardiovascular Health
Studies have shown that pet therapy may help to lower blood pressure and overall cholesterol levels in seniors, which can lead to better cardiovascular health.
Though pet therapy is not a substitute for medical care, it can be an effective way to provide comfort and companionship for seniors in a safe and supportive environment. It is important to consult with a doctor or therapist before beginning any pet therapy program. They will be able to determine if pet therapy is the right choice for your loved one and provide guidance on how best to go about setting up the program.
Improve Blood Pressure
Regular interaction with a pet can help to lower blood pressure in seniors. Petting a dog or cat for only 10 minutes has been found to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.
Seniors may feel isolated due to ageism, lack of mobility or simply not having enough people around them. Interacting with a pet can help to boost their sense of self-worth and bring joy and purpose into their lives. Additionally, pets provide unconditional love and acceptance, which can be incredibly comforting during difficult times.
Is a Dog or Cat Better for Pet Therapy?
The best pet for any individual will depend on the person’s lifestyle, preferences, activity level. Dogs are more likely to be active and require regular walks and exercise, while cats tend to be more independent and can be quite content with lounging around the house. Other animals such as birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, lizards, fish, and horses can also provide comfort in different ways. Ultimately it is up to each individual to decide what pet would work best for them.
Is Pet Therapy for You?
Pet therapy is a great way to provide comfort and companionship for seniors. It can help to reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, boost self-esteem and provide a connection to the world around them. If you think that your loved one would benefit from pet therapy, talk to their doctor or therapist about how best to set up the program. With some research and preparation, pet therapy can be an enjoyable experience that brings joy into their lives.