Admittedly, we are dog lovers at The Nursing Team and highly believe in the power of Pet Therapy. It’s borderline spiritual — the way a calm dog can snuggle up next to you and melt your worries away, make you feel loved and simply be that “best friend” when you need one most.
Pet therapy can be beneficial to people of all ages, but it is especially impactful to seniors who are prone to depression because they are more inclined to be lonely or isolated.
The Nursing Team’s official Therapy Dog, Daisy, is one of the most “chill” dogs you will ever meet. So what is it that she, and other pets, can do for our seniors?
- Improve confidence, social skills, cognitive stimulation
- Reduce blood pressure, depression, anxiety and loneliness
- Increase exercise and mobility
- Provide meaning and purpose in daily lives
- Provide a calming influence for those with dementia
Here are some things to keep in mind when considering pet therapy:
- Pet Ownership vs Pet Therapy?
Both can bring equal rewards, but pet ownership definitely comes with a bit more responsibility. This avenue should only be taken if the owner can take proper care of the animal by feeding, walking, grooming, cost etc. If mobility and memory are limited, a visiting pet therapy animal may be the better avenue.
- Puppies and kittens are cute, but not the best option.
Puppies and kittens tend to be more hyper, need much more care and attention and can get “underfoot” easier, causing falls. Older dogs and cats are much more mellow, larger in size (which means they’re easier to see and not trip over) and can be easier to take care of.
If you, or your loved one, has never had a pet before, make sure they don’t have any pre-existing allergies you don’t know of.
- Compatibility is key.
Last but certainly not least, compatibility is an important part of the benefits. You certainly don’t want an animal that is going to cause MORE stress or be antagonistic. (Not ALL older animals are calm and well-behaved.)
While many pet therapy services have put visits on hold during the COVID pandemic, this might be a good time for a lonely loved one to get a 4-legged friend (or other pet). It can help battle the isolation that has become part of daily life for self-quarantining seniors.
An added plus? Research has shown that the power of pet therapy has been great for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Interaction reduces anxiety and agitation as well as improves nutrition and appetite.
The Nursing Team owners, Tom and Kathleen Chastain adopted Daisy for Kathleen’s mom, when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Daisy was a blessing then and we can’t wait to get her back out there visiting clients, putting smiles on faces and warming hearts.