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Pet Therapy for Seniors

Pet therapy, or animal assisted therapy, is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal. The goal is to help people recover from or better cope with a health problem or mental disorder.  Pet therapy can occur in a range of different settings, including retirement communities, hospices, rehabilitation centers, and senior’s homes. Animals used for therapy can range from domesticated pets to beautiful farm animals.

This can be especially beneficial for the elderly, who are at a higher risk for loneliness and isolation. Pet therapy has recently been shown to be effective in elder care by encouraging physical activity, improving socialization, and decreasing loneliness. Here’s how pet therapy can help seniors stay healthier for longer:

1. Physical Activity. Caring for an animal encourages physical activity. Having a pet acts as a great motivator for encouraging daily walks and movement. Daily exercise boosts mood and is an essential part of managing many age related illnesses, from diabetes to high cholesterol. 

2. Reducing Loneliness. Having access to a pet for hours at a time has a positive impact on renewing interest in life, increasing feel-good hormones and reducing loneliness. The companionship that a pet can bring to an older person is extremely valuable, especially if they live alone or if they live far away from family members. 

3. Social Interaction. Pet ownership also inspires social interaction. Dog owners, for example, often stop to interact with other dog owners during their regular walking route. Animals that visit care facilities will encourage residents and workers to interact on a deeper level.

4. Dementia Treatment. Pet therapy is especially useful in the treatment of seniors with dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Levels of agitation have been noted to decrease when dementia and Alzheimer’s patients spend time with animals.

5. Reduce Stress. The simple act of touching an animal has also been shown to reduce stress levels and blood pressure. 

Have our Happier at Home caregivers accompany you on a long walk with your pets or to the pet store.  

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