Many seniors struggle mentally and emotionally with growing old. Physically, the body doesn’t resist infections as easy as it once did. They are more likely to develop a serious illness or suffer from a health condition that robs them of their ability to completely take care of themselves. They may need to rely on family caregivers, home care assistants and community senior services. However, one type of therapy that is making enormous differences both physically and mentally—pet therapy.
Dogs, cats, horses, birds, fish, monkeys and more can all be used in pet therapy. Pet therapy is becoming more popular as medical researchers find strong links between elderly adults and physical and emotional issues. From doctors and therapists to nurses and senior care aides, it’s easy to find professionals that support pet therapy to use with elderly adults.
Physical Benefits of Pet Therapy
Seniors struggle with a number of physical issues due to illness, injuries and old age. They can also find it challenging to stay as active as they once did. Pet therapy helps seniors with all kinds of physical benefits. Studies show that spending time with pets can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Seniors that struggle to get up and move around will find extra motivation when it comes to pets. Pets need food and water as well, so the senior must get up several times a day to tend to their needs. Walking and bathing animals can further motivate mobility in elderly adults.
Many seniors that need some success in physical therapy and occupational therapy can benefit from interacting with pets. For example, those with arthritis or who suffer from limited movements due to a stroke can use their pets in physical therapy. Repetitive actions like grabbing a grooming brush and brushing a dog’s long coat are good for the elderly person. Research shows that seniors in pet therapy may have fewer doctor’s visits and take less medicine than their counterparts without pet therapy.
Mental Benefits of Pet Therapy
Many seniors deal with isolation, loneliness, depression and anxiety. The nurturing bond between human and animal helps alleviate certain mental health conditions. Even the act of petting a dog or cat triggers the brain to release endorphins which flood the body and make elderly adults feel good.
Working with pets alleviates many negative feelings and helps seniors be more social. As their emotional well-being increases, their self-esteem grows and they feel needed and loved. Seniors help with caregiver responsibilities for the animals, which motivate them to interact with the therapists and others. The mental stimulation they get from pet therapy is often much stronger than with other traditional types of therapy.
There’s no doubt that seniors of all conditions and backgrounds can benefit from pet therapy. Family caregivers can look for pet therapy programs at the local senior center, hospitals, clinics, and government senior service organizations.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering caregivers in Cherry Hill, NJ, please contact the caring staff at TLC Home Care Services today. Call (856) 234-8700 for more information.
Kelly C. McCabe is a founding partner and co-owner of TLC HomeCare Services.She and her business partner,Patti Maltese founded TLC HomeCare Services in March of 2009.In addition to management, marketing and sales, staffing and recruiting, Kelly holds her New Jersey producer’s license in Health and Life insurance and is also a New Jersey Certified Home Health Aide.Kelly is the proud mother of two daughters and is a resident of Moorestown, NJ.