Benefits of Pet Therapy


There are many types of therapy that that can be utilized for the health and comfort of senior citizens. And there is not a “one-size fits all” when it comes to various methods. From art therapy to pet therapy, some seniors may be respond better to specific therapies over others. The latter has been used to help seniors that may be lonely and need a companion. But the benefits of pet therapy go beyond that and include stress reduction, overall health and wellness and more. Fellowship Square shares more about the positive aspects of having a pet in the Golden Years — or simply enjoying the benefits of a pet without actually owning one.


Pet therapy isn’t just about dogs and cats. In fact pet or animal therapy extends to farm animals too. Typically animals that are used specifically as pet therapy animals have to be trained, including obedience and socialization as well as know how to interact with seniors that have limitations on mobility and other health issued. 


For seniors that are active and lucid, owning a pet is a wonderful way to experience the benefits of pet therapy every day! Aside from filling the gap of loneliness, owning a pet can give seniors a sense of responsibility and accountability to the pet. Having a pet can also add sense of security and comfort for a senior that is living alone and provide a source of socialization and activity — after all, taking a pet for a walk is a great way to meet neighbors and other pet owners! And the walking itself is great exercise for both senior and pet.


For seniors that are in a hospital or senior living community, visitation therapy is another way they can experience the benefits of having a pet without having to care for the pet, which can become a burden or too much for some seniors as they experience health issues or limitations of their own. In this case, organizations can be brought in to allow guided and monitored time for the seniors to interact with and play with the pets _ and benefitting from their loving cuddles. 


Specially trained animals can also offer assistant to seniors that are going through rehabilitation and there are also specific organizations that can pair seniors with animals that are going through (or have experienced) their own rehabilitation, such as horses. This therapy is designed to rebuild physical strength and skills and can also be instrumental in rebuilding confidence.


Overall, spending as little as 15 minutes with an animal can boost moods by increasing serotonin, decrease stress and anxiety levels, and initiate hormonal brain changes. Pet therapy can also reduce risk of depression, increase empathy, increase energy levels and mobility, lower blood pressure, improve physical skills as well as mental stimulation, stimulate the memory, and calm negative actions that are associated with dementia. 


With such wonderful benefits, not including the pure joy of snuggling with a kitten or petting a puppy, pet therapy is a great method to introduce to seniors in a number of different ways depending on their specific situation and ability. Fellowship Square invites all seniors to enjoy little pet therapy when they can!

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