The Benefits of Pet Therapy

Whether living on their own or in an elder care facility, pet therapy enhances meaningful daily interaction for seniors and their loved ones.  Available data has shown that, for seniors, caring for a pet builds self-esteem, increases daily happiness and enhances feelings of responsibility.  Additionally, the act of caring for another living being brings a sense of fulfillment to seniors who, at times, may feel as though they can’t take care of themselves.1

Pets have a natural way of delighting us and creating a special bond that satisfies our need to feel loved and important.  Pets are not judgmental or bossy; they love implicitly. Owners of pets typically talk to their pet daily, confiding in them and sharing their daily grievances. This release of stress and emotion often decreases feelings of loneliness and improves overall mood.  The attention and companionship of the pet itself, with the accompanying stability of a routine and structure to care for the pet, can ameliorate feelings of having little to contribute.  Pets need food and exercise just like us.  Each mealtime is a reminder to take care of one’s self, and each walk is a step to manage the daily exercise necessary for an aging body. Pets also provide a sense of safety. For a senior living alone, feeling safe is incredibly significant. 2

Noticing the trend and impact of pet therapy in connection with senior living, Hasbro launched a campaign of stuffed animal companions for seniors who perhaps can’t support a living animal, but desire the company and love from a pet. “It features motion sensors, lights sensors. It can respond very cat-like to being hugged, held, and petted. There is even a small motor inside the toy which realistically mimics cat purrs both by vibration and sound.” [1] Many seniors feel isolated. Petting and interacting with an animal, even a mechanical version, creates a valuable connection. Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression because of this bond. However, the benefits of pet ownership aren’t just mental.  The American Heart Association has “linked pets to a reduced risk for heart disease, and research has also found that people with pets have lower blood pressure and elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine.”[2]

In conclusion, pet therapy benefits one’s physical, emotional and psychological well being. For more information about pet therapy and its benefits please visit the links below:

Pets Can Help Seniors Stay Happy and Healthy

Pet Friendly Assisted Living

 

 

[1] StuffedParty. “Hasbro Launches Companion Stuffed Animals for Seniors.” StuffedParty.com | The Community for Stuffed Toys. StuffedParty.com, 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

[2] Moss, Laura. “Pets Can Help Seniors Stay Happy and Healthy.” MNN – Mother Nature Network. Mother Nature Network, 27 June 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

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