Benefits of Pet Therapy for Seniors with Mobility or Cognitive Issues

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Pet therapyDogs have long been regarded as a man’s best friend…and for good reason. Generally speaking, pets are loyal, loving, and protective – a pet owner’s personal caregiver so to speak.

Pets have a calming effect on people. So, it’s not surprising that scientific studies support the idea that pet therapy is a legitimate and effective addition to home care for seniors.

To combat sadness and loneliness, UCLA researchers found that spending merely a few hours a day with a pet could positively impact seniors’ health.

What Is Pet Therapy?
Therapy approaches that integrate positive interactions with pets into the treatment process are collectively known as “pet therapy.” Evidence suggests that animals trained as therapeutic companions (such as dogs, cats, horses, birds, etc.) can ease the symptoms of numerous health conditions that affect the elderly, making in-home healthcare sometimes even more productive.

Benefits of Pet Therapy
There are several rewards to adopting pet therapy as part of home healthcare for seniors with mobility or cognitive issues. Many programs in the field of animal-assisted therapy are geared toward aiding senior citizens to achieve certain therapeutic targets such as increasing their strength and stamina as well as improving their flexibility, mobility, and cognitive skills.

  • Physical Benefits:  Playing fetch or frisbee, as well as bathing and caressing a therapy animal can help seniors increase their range of motion. If the senior is able, taking short walks with the pet can also help with mobility. In addition, seniors with more serious disabilities may profit from the pet’s external stimuli and perceptions of sight, touch, and hearing.
  • Cognitive Benefits: Interacting with a pet can sometimes stir up memories of past pets and experiences in younger years. Seniors exercise their brains when they have to recall past knowledge about former pets, from its name to favorite hobbies and favorite treats.
  • Psychological Benefits: The senior’s focus is mostly on the pet throughout the sessions. Stress and restlessness associated with cognitive syndromes like Alzheimer’s disease can be relieved by diverting one’s attention in this way. In addition, interacting and playing with the pet releases relaxing endorphins and decreases the senior’s depression symptoms. It also lowers their blood pressure to prevent hypertension and other heart issues.
  • Emotional Benefits: Animal interactions can help alleviate feelings of loneliness by fostering a sense of attachment. Rather than receiving care, the senior may prefer to switch roles by volunteering to take care of the pet (like grooming or feeding it). This boosts their self-confidence and instills a greater feeling of responsibility and usefulness.

Helping loved ones get the physical and mental wellness they need and deserve in their golden years is sometimes fun and effective with the aid of pet therapy.
Using the services of a quality home care agency along with pet therapy can sometimes bring a little more sunshine, and a little less loneliness, to the golden years.
Allcare is here to help with the home care part. Call us to schedule a no-cost new client assessment.

• Veilleux A. Benefits and challenges of animal-assisted therapy in older adults: a literature review. Nurs Stand. 2021 Jan 13;36(1):28-33. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11625. Epub 2020 Dec 21. PMID: 33345484.
• Sbrizzi C, Sapuppo W. Effects of Pet Therapy in Elderly Patients with Neurocognitive Disorders: A Brief Review. Dement Geriatr Cogn Dis Extra. 2021 Sep 13;11(3):198-206. doi: 10.1159/000518469. PMID: 34703453; PMCID: PMC8460886.
• Zafra-tanaka JH, Pacheco-barrios K, Tellez WA, Taype-rondan A. Effects of dog-assisted therapy in adults with dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 2019;19(1):41.
• Beetz A, Uvnäs-moberg K, Julius H, Kotrschal K. Psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interactions: the possible role of oxytocin. Front Psychol. 2012;3:234.
• Marx MS, Cohen-mansfield J, Regier NG, Dakheel-ali M, Srihari A, Thein K. The impact of different dog-related stimuli on the engagement of persons with dementia. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2010;25(1):37-45.