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Improving residents lives with pet therapy

Posted by Dude Solutions Canada, Inc. | Friday, August 28, 2015

Improving residents lives with pet therapy There may not be such thing as a universal truth, but the fact that everyone loves animals is probably as close as we'll ever get. No matter what a person's age, gender or background, it's hard to resist cracking a smile in the presence of furry friends.

Animals can have a particularly powerful impact on seniors. Older adults can benefit greatly from the feelings of happiness and companionship that spending even a little time with a pet can bring. Animal therapy is commonly used among senior populations to great effect.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you're considering this exciting activity for your residents. 

Physical benefits

Think back to when you were a kid asking your parents for your first puppy. Do you remember the chief objection? "You'll have to walk it every day," your folks undoubtedly reminded you assiduously. Well, this common childhood objection can be one of the greatest advantages for seniors. Regular physical activity is an essential part of a healthy senior lifestyle, and a pup waiting for a daily walk is a perfect opportunity for your residents to get active in a way that they'll enjoy.

Even those seniors who are homebound due to illness or injury can still appreciate physical lifestyle benefits from interacting with animals. Seemingly minor tasks such as feeding a pet, changing a litter box or even bathing a dog can help keep your residents active.

In fact, you don't have to even partake in physical activity to enjoy physical benefits. According to the National Center for Health Research, pet ownership has been linked to lower blood pressure and decreased heart rate. You don't even have to own a pet - the source cited a study which found that simply being in the same room as a dog lowered blood pressure even more than a commonly prescribed medication.

Other benefits

Of course, everyone knows the real advantage pets can offer is the dramatic improvement to quality of life. The psychological and emotional impact pets can have on people of all ages is well-known. The sense of companionship that comes with owning a pet can't be overstated. 

One study reported by the NCHR revealed that pet-owning seniors were better able to perform regular daily physical tasks like climbing stairs, simply as a result of the decrease in stress. What's more, pets can provide seniors with something essential to their well-being: a sense of purpose. 

Animals make us feel better, but they also need us to take care of them. Pets need feeding, dogs need walking and cats need their litter changed. Not to mention, every pet needs a bit of playtime. Giving senior residents something to engage with that requires their participation can be hugely important in ensuring your residents stay happy.

Many organizations already exist that seek to connect seniors in assisted living facilities with pets in a therapeutic setting. Letting your residents spend some quality time with man's best friend can do wonders for their overall happiness and health. 

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