As some age, physical and mental obstacles may arise, such as dementia, hip fractures, and immobility. For those elders with a deteriorating health, assisted living is a quality choice of treatment, but sometimes that care isn’t enough. A recent form of therapy for unhappy patients has been introduced in which seniors can interact and take care of pets. According to SeniorAdvice.com, animal therapy has proven very beneficial for those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, even those experiencing depression or loneliness.
The bond between people and animals can be extremely therapeutic in situations like assisted living. Aside from the pleasure that comes with petting or playing with an animal, the contact causes an increase in the production of serotonin, which decreases blood pressure and reduces stress. A daily routine with therapy pets can actually improve the medical condition and interaction skills of a patient, not to mention provide a lonely senior with a companion. Keeping a pet in an assisted living environment can improve the overall condition of an elder, from increasing physical activity by walking a dog to bringing shy patients out of their shells. Pet therapy can even revive a forgotten memory of someone with dementia. One’s motivation to engage in the world can be reinforced through brushing, petting, or feeding the animal.
Of course, an animal requires special training and must possess the right personality for it to be appropriate for playing with senior citizens. There are pets prepared for different scenarios, such as crowd interaction or individual companionship. However, the patients are responsible as well, as they must tend to the needs of the animal and provide proper treatment as to not startle or tempt the therapy pet.
In times when aging can impairs one’s abilities and cause unhappiness, sometimes a loving relationship with an animal is all it takes to bring meaning back to an elder’s life. Under the right preparations, pet therapy can significantly benefit the physical and mental state of a senior patient in assisted living.