Pet therapy for the elderly

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Animal assisted therapy is another term for pet therapy for the elderly. Numerous studies have confirmed the beneficial effect that interaction with animals can have on the quality of life for older adults. Retirees can experience feelings of loneliness, boredom and isolation that may lead to depression. Cats, dogs and other pets help to fight depression by providing the positive energy and companionship that an older person might be missing in his or her life. The unconditional love that a dog or a cat can give to the elderly owner is often a source of joy that in turn can have beneficial influence on the older owner’s physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.

What is pet therapy for the elderly?

How many senior living facilities in the United States are pet friendly?

Companion animals and seniors

Moving into an assisted living facility with a pet

Pet therapy in retirement communities

Pet friendly retirement communities and local pet shelters

What is pet therapy for the elderly?

Many assisted living facilities are beginning to include pet therapy in the range of other senior care programs. In the recent years an increasing number of assisted living communities are becoming pet friendly. Pet friendly assisted living communities allow their residents to move in with their beloved dog or cat after the initial screening. Although not all pet friendly retirement communities accept large sized dogs, most allow small and medium sized dogs, cats, birds and other small animal companions. It is a good idea to find out about the senior living community's pet policy before making the final decision, especially if planning to bring along a companion animal.

How many senior living facilities in the United States are pet friendly?

Well over fifty percent of all senior living facilities in the United States are pet friendly. As more research is done in regards to the benefits that interaction with animals offers to older adults, more and more senior living communities are starting to allow pets and provide pet services as part of their programs. Pet related services may include pet grooming, pet concierge and easily accessible veterinary care. Senior pet owners enjoy multiple benefits from being able to continue caring for their pet. Having an animal helps baby boomers to feel less isolated and keeps the older person in better physical and emotional health. Older dog owners, for example have to walk the dog several times every day, which naturally helps the older person to move more and to spend more time outdoors. Feeding a pet, grooming and caring for an animal companion is a responsibility that keeps a senior pet owner busy and active during the day. Caring for a dog or a cat helps the older pet owner to feel useful and contributes to a better quality of life. Assisted living facilities that recognize the importance of having pets for their residents provide an incredible value to the lives of older people who live there.

Companion animals and seniors

Older adults often feel isolated and lonely and being able to have a companion animal helps seniors to deal with difficult life situations that they might be experiencing. Seniors who lost a spouse or have limited communication with relatives or friends find that having a pet to care for gives a sense of purpose and a source of joy in life. Older people who enjoy having a pet are often more socially connected. Owning a dog or a cat can help to bond with other seniors sharing similar interests. Countless friendships among older adults are formed because of the shared interest based on having a pet in one's life. Senior citizens who stay socially connected tend to live longer and healthier life.

Moving into an assisted living facility with a pet

Moving into an assisted living facility may be stressful for older adults. Those seniors who have to give up their pets in order to move into a senior living community that doesn't allow pets face even greater amount of stress associated with having to let go of their animal companion in addition to other changes. Finding another home for a loved pet may not be easy and placing the pet into a pet shelter is a very difficult decision. Fortunately, finding a pet friendly retirement community is much easier today than ever before. There's no reason to let go of a beloved animal companion – take the pet along to a pet friendly assisted living community where pet ownership is welcomed and encouraged. Elderly people who move into an assisted senior living facility with a loved pet have an easier time adjusting to the new environment and animal companions help older people feel more at home in their new place of living. Getting the pet accustomed to the new residence keeps the dog or cat owner more focused on caring for the animal and less stressed during the move. Taking a dog out for a walk or petting a cat helps a senior who recently moved to a senior living facility stay more relaxed.

Pet therapy in senior living facilities

Not all seniors have the desire to own a pet, but still enjoy being able to spend time with animals. Seniors with memory issues or with disabilities may not be able to care for an animal full time. Pet therapy is a great way for elderly people to still have a way to spend time with animals without having to take on the responsibility of owning a cat or a dog. Some pet friendly senior living facilities allow visits from therapy animals. How does pet therapy help the elderly? Pet therapy dogs, for example, that visit an elderly person have a positive impact with their calming presence. Touching a therapy pet can help an older person to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and experience better mood. Dementia patients and those with memory issues find presence of a therapy animal soothing.

Pet friendly retirement communities and local animal shelters

Some pet friendly assisted living communities team up with local shelters and adopt dogs or cats so that these animals become community pets. Seniors living in assisted living residences have a chance to participate in interacting and caring for these animals. Adopted animals are selected with many considerations, that include calm and friendly temperament. Although not all seniors participate in caring for the adopted pets, those senior residents who enjoy interacting and caring for animals have a chance to do just that. Local animal shelters and pet friendly senior living facilities form mutually beneficial programs that enable senior citizens that enjoy being around cats and dogs to help shelters care for the animals. Seniors that like spending time with animals help with various tasks such as walking or feeding them and so on. This type of mutually beneficial arrangement provides seniors with the opportunity to stay active and involved while the animals living in the shelters can enjoy a playtime or a peaceful walk.

The benefits of allowing pets in retirement communities are undeniable and older pet owners shouldn't have to sacrifice the joy of having a companion animal living with them in order to move into an assisted living facility. Senior care facilities that go the extra mile to establish dog walking trails, pet exercise areas, animal grooming services and other conveniences for pet owners end up with happier and healthier residents who live longer and can have a better quality of life in their golden years.

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