How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

Pet therapy is one of the long used treatments for taking control over a range of health problems, depression and mood disorders particularly. But just how effective could it be to renew your health? Mental health challenges, namely Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), end of life trauma, and Alzheimer’s disease have been proven to be coped with using pet therapy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also marked the use of animals to reduce the feeling of loneliness, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceridesHow Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

Pet therapy can be given in another form, which is called animal-assisted therapy, with a view to treat and care for those who spend most of their time alone or in a nursing institution. One of the key advantages of animal-assisted therapy is that it takes your mood and energy levels to a different level, which is very useful for anyone recovering from an illness. How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

Pet therapy is not just restricted to dogs and cats, it could be any animal that’s worth including.

Reliability on Animal-Assisted Therapy for Health Improvement

While pet therapy is long praised for showing significant improvement in health, there are some scientific studies to support the treatment.

144 participants from Italy were exposed to canary bird, a plant, and neither. They were provided with specific instructions to care for what they were exposed to for a period of 3 months. After completion of the stipulated period of time, those who cared for the canary scored well in psychological symptom testing compared to those who cared for a plant and neither of them.

Another study, which proves why dogs and cats are deployed in US shelters each year (every 13 seconds) according to Humane Society, is supportive of the effectiveness of pet therapy. US veterans struggling with trust rebuilding, PTSD, and dementia showed great signs of improvement by having a dog as a pet around. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Tracy Stecker explained how dogs mimic the buddy system practiced in military. As a result, the US veteran patients were able to exhibit larger volume of social behaviors and positive signs of cognition.

What are the Health Benefits of Owning a Pet?

Well, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the benefits of pet-assisted therapy, not just related to health. However, if you have a senior or sick family member at home, here are some of the boons of owning a pet.

  • Increase in physical activity

  • Boosted motor skills and improved balance

  • Sense of security and companionship

  • Improvement in socialization

  • Reduced isolation, grief, and anxiety

  • Good self-control

  • Decreased dependency on medications

  • Low risk of heart attack and stroke

  • Great focus and attention

  • Enhanced social skills

How can Pets Improve your Mental Health?

As pets are good at producing a positive and highly interactive environment, they can be great channels for benefiting your mental health. Especially, seniors going through a trauma, dementia, substance abuse, depression, autism, and other mental illnesses can ensure significant improvement.

Mental disorder patients commonly struggle with being open about their symptoms to doctors, friends and family because they lack the feeling of being safe and considering someone trustworthy. Pet therapy fills out that lack besides helping to boost self-confidence, enhance communication abilities, and reduce stress.

Should You Own a Pet?

In order to make a decision as to whether or not you should own a pet, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

  • Are you healthy enough to care for a pet?

  • Do you suffer from any pet related allergies?

  • Do you really need a pet therapy?

  • Does the animal possess a good temperament?

  • How healthy is the pet?

  • Have you cared for a pet earlier?

  • Is the pet at the right age?

  • Is there a need to own two or more pets?

It’s always better to consult your pet therapist before coming to a decision, so that you do justice to your health and the people around.

How Does Senior Living Get Impacted With Pet Therapy?

“Dogs – and other pets – live very much in the here and now. They don’t worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people,” said psychotherapist Dr. Jay P. Granat.

When you connect the life of seniors with animal assistance, there is a broad scope of health offerings a person can enjoy whether living in a nursing home or by ownself. There can be no argument on how capable pet therapy is to boost social interaction and physical activity which play a vital role in the overall well-being of seniors.

Apart from improving mental health, cognitive abilities and symptoms of other ailments, owning a pet can open up opportunities for companionship and love which seniors are otherwise deprived of. Not to forget, adopting a pet also brings in crucial benefits for the animal where they get loved and cared for by their owners unlike in shelters.

Now, the only concern about pet therapy, especially in a healthcare setting, is safety and sanitation. If you are of the same opinion, this fact should change it: there has been no report of infection due to animal-assisted therapy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention till date. Note that a majority of hospitals and other healthcare facilities ensure that the animals are vaccinated, cleaned, trained and well-behaved for pet therapy by following some strict rules.

How Good are Pets in the Bedroom?

If you are not a fan of sharing your bed with an animal, Mayo Clinic’s survey where 41 percent of patients find it useful to sleep with their pet should make you interested. This also downplays the thought of sleep experts that sharing your bedroom with an animal can trouble your sleep. Some patients have even confessed they felt relaxed and had a sense of security in the presence of their pet. However, it is expected of you to wash your sheets regularly.

How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy  How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

about the author

Victor Marchione

Dr. Victor Marchione received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and continued on to do his Medical Degree at the  University of Messina. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for more than 20 years.

Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and the NBC Today Show. As well as being on the Advisory Board for Bel Marra Health, he is also the editor of the Health eTalk newsletter.

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