What is Pet Therapy for Seniors?


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Pet Therapy

Being a pet owner comes with many responsibilities. Pets require an individual’s time and attention. For this reason, many seniors cannot keep a pet at home. If health problems or ambulation problems exist, having and caring for a pet may seem too demanding.
There is an alternative to owning a pet called Pet Therapy. So what is it, and what does it do?

Simply put, there are pet therapy groups that will take the pet to various assisted living, senior centers or even to an individual’s home. Seniors can interact with pets while they are there. The benefits of pet therapy are diverse and may contribute to physical and mental well being of seniors.
Pet therapy for seniors is also known as Assisted Animal Therapy. Studies suggest that even 15 minutes spent with an animal promotes hormonal changes within the brain. The brain produces serotonin, a hormone which make us feel good is responsible for reducing stress levels. Pet therapy offers many fantastic health benefits for seniors, both physically and emotionally.
Seniors may feel isolated and depressed due to loved ones not being nearby or death of a spouse. They may feel they cannot communicate or express their emotions anymore. Therapy animals can help bring them out of their depressed state, making them happier and healthier.

Below are just some of the benefits of owning a pet or pet therapy;

  • Walking a dog provides exercise for seniors, resulting in improved mobility and a healthier lifestyle.
  • Touching a pet reduces stress levels, lowering blood pressure and average heart rate.
  • Pets show unbiased affection toward their owners and listen to them without passing judgment. Seniors may sometimes choose to share those inner feelings with just their pets that they can’t share with their family or friends.
  • Animals can be soothing for seniors who have reduced communication due to Alzheimer’s/dementia or any other disease.
  • Having a pet gives seniors a sense of responsibility and improves their overall quality of life, which helps boost their self-confidence.
  • Seniors know they have a friend beside them who loves them unconditionally.