Senior citizens tend to face some challenges as they get older, including; a higher frequency of health problems, social isolation, and risks for injury. As a result, many seniors can become sick, disabled, or depressed. While medical intervention is a crucial part of the healing process for any ailment, many seniors can also benefit from another loving source: their pets.
In this blog, we look at some of the benefits that can come from owning a pet.
Reduced Feelings of Loneliness
The elderly tend to feel lonely and isolated due to friends moving away, or even some dying due to old age. The introduction of pet therapy has seen dramatic effects with the majority of participants reacting well to the therapy. The decrease in loneliness and isolation has shown real positive effects.
Boost Activity Levels
Introducing pets can have real benefits on those who wouldn’t otherwise get a lot of exercises. Allowing patients to walk around with the dogs, cuddle them and help feed and groom them. All of these small activities can reduce swelling, increase blood circulation and improve strength.
Reduce Stress and Depression
The calming nature of a pet has been seen to increase levels of Oxytocin the stress-reducing hormone, also decreasing the production of cortisol, a producer of stress.
These positive health effects don’t stop at stress relief, it is also believed that pet therapy can have a drastic effect on blood pressure. Not just bringing a calming effect but reducing the mental stress some elders feel when they’re alone.
As well as bringing back happy memories of previous pets, pet therapy can have positive effects on unlocking memories in Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
Alzheimers.net has reported: “While companionship is an obvious benefit, a well-timed pet visit may also help with anxiety and depression. It’s not uncommon to watch someone transition from emotionless to joyful when a pet enters the room, especially if it triggers pleasant memories.”
The Bridges at Warwick also reports: “Many seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can begin to feel depressed as time goes by as a result of not being able to communicate how they would like to and not being able to do things on their own as much. While pet and animal therapy doesn’t exactly “cure” emotions, it can significantly improve mindset and distract from negative feelings”
Pets and animals make seniors feel loved and accepted no matter their age, abilities or illness, something that not all humans can provide. They can be a listening ear or someone to confide in when they become lonely or isolated.
Above all else, pet therapy brings joy and happiness to many elderly people, giving them something to look forward to. The excitement on their face when they know it’s that time of the week again is truly unmissable.