What is Pet Therapy for Seniors?

Playful cat laying on the side walk.

Being a pet owner comes with many responsibilities. Pets require individual’s time and attention. It may be for this reason that many seniors are not able to keep a pet at home. If health problems or ambulation problems exist, it may seem too demanding to having and caring for a pet.

There is an alternative to owning a pet and it’s 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 is responsible for promoting 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 amazing 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 healthier lifestyle.
  • Touching a pet reduces stress levels resulting in lower blood pressure and normal heart rate.
  • Pets provide unbiased affection towards their owners. They listen to their owners 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.
  • For seniors who have reduced communicate due to Alzheimer’s/dementia or any other disease, animals can be soothing.
  • Having a pet provides seniors with a sense of responsibility and improve their lives on the whole. This helps boost seniors self-confidence.
  • Seniors know they have a friend besides them who loves unconditionally.

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