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Seniors and Pet Therapy
- April 22, 2011
This article has been submitted by one of SeniorsCircle.ca valued supporters.
Many seniors are comforted by the support of furry four legged friends. Pets can be very soothing and offer therapeutic benefits to seniors. Pets provide entertainment as well as cognitive stimulation. It is difficult for most people to resist sad puppy eyes and a wagging tail or a purring kitty at your feet. Pets reduce loneliness caused by the losses associated with aging and provide a sense of security and protection. Animals are nonjudgmental and loyal; they do not care if you can’t hear very well, or if you walk with a cane or if you can’t remember what you ate for breakfast. A pet is there to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on. Animals can help people maintain good health and cope with life’s challenges. It has been proven that pet owners have less stress than non-pet owners and pets can even help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
For a senior who is isolated, a pet can provide social interaction and someone to talk to. Having a pet can elicit the nurturing care of an elderly person. This allows seniors to feed, stroke and care for someone or something other than themselves and assists seniors in feeling useful, valued and needed. Although owning a pet may not be an option for all seniors, pet visits, a trip to a pet store or farm or even putting a bird feeder outside a window can have the same effects as owning an animal. Older dogs tend to work well for seniors due to their calm nature. Cats are great pets because they are easily cared for.
The benefits of having a pet or access to animals are undeniable. The bond between pets and their owners can be found in homes around the world, it is even becoming a popular type of therapy in many assisted living, long term care and acute care settings. Animal companionship and loyalty alone may be just the healing touch a senior needs. The love of a pet is unconditional and therapeutic, what better form of therapy could there be?