When it’s time to leave home, whether for a short time in rehabilitation or for a long-term care treatment center, you can be comforted knowing family members and friends will all be able to come and visit you. But what about your little Fi Fi or Laddie? Rest assured there are rehabilitation facilities like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing near Syracuse, New York that allow your beloved pets to visit you. Of course, your pet must be leashed at all times and its latest vaccination and health record must be submitted to their Activity office. Van Duyn knows that man’s best friend gives lots of love and companionship and welcomes your pet coming to visit with you.
Two-thirds of Americans have pets and more than half of these are seniors.
It is now recognized that pets and pet therapy also called animal assisted therapy can be very beneficial to seniors:
Pets help Fight Anxiety and Depression
It is very hard to ignore a wagging tail and a snuggling muzzle. Pets can help pull a withdrawn senior out of their feelings of isolation and can help bring a smile to their faces.
Pets shoo away feelings of loneliness and are wonderful companions.
Playing with a Pet is Relaxing
Pets can help to calm a senior who is agitated.
Pets make people feel good and they are good entertainers.
Some dogs and pups are natural clowns and make everyone around them happy.
Interacting with Pets Reduces Stress
Studies show that playing with pets causes the brain to increase levels good hormones that make people feel good and combat stress.
Pets are Good for the Heart
Some studies have shown that pets can help to lower blood pressure and normalize a racing heart. Walking a dog is good exercise for the heart.
Feeding or grooming a pet can make a senior feel useful and boosts self-confidence. It is good to feel that someone needs you, loves you and asks for so little in return.
Pets Improve Socialization
Many seniors will open up and talk to the animals. The pet also helps the senior to communicate more with other pet owners and caregivers.
Good Physical Exercise
Walking a dog is a good way for seniors to get physical exercise. Also, playing catch and throwing a ball for a dog to retrieve is physical exercise at its best.
Pets Help Seniors Strengthen their Motor Skills
Grooming, walking and feeding a pet can help improve motor skills. This can also help to restore motor skills in seniors recovering from strokes.
Pet Therapy is a non-pharmacological way of Treatment
Animals can help combat depression, agitation, anxiety without the need of medicinal drugs.
Pets Beneficial to Seniors Suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Being with a pet may awaken long forgotten memories. Pet Therapy in this case is a kind of reminiscent treatment. Studies have shown that pets can also help with agitation and to improve mood. Research also shows that seniors with dementia can even be helped with stuffed toy animals.
Therapy Dogs are in Demand
For all of these reasons therapy dogs are in demand and with their trainers make therapeutic visits to care facilities. This is especially beneficial for seniors who love animals, but no longer have one and can no longer take care of one. They can have all the benefits of interacting with the therapy animal without having to take on all the responsibilities of caring for one.
Therapy Animals Undergo Special Training
Dogs that are to be used with the elderly have to be specially trained to be docile and not jump up on people. They also need to learn how to act around people in wheel chairs or who use walkers and canes.
Since therapy animals, especially dogs have been shown to be so beneficial in so many ways it is hoped that more care facilities will begin to use pet therapy in their treatment and recreational programs and that like the Van Duyn Center will allow pets to visit residing seniors.