As we age, it can become increasingly difficult to find ways to stay active and engaged with the world around us. This is especially true for those who live in assisted living facilities. Many residents struggle with feelings of loneliness, depression, and isolation, which can be detrimental to their overall health and well-being. However, there is one simple yet incredibly effective way to combat these feelings: pet therapy.
What is Pet Therapy and What are its Benefits?
Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, involves bringing trained animals into clinical settings to interact with patients. The benefits of this type of therapy have been well-documented, with numerous studies showing that pet therapy can improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and even lower blood pressure.
For residents of assisted living facilities, such as assisted living in Berkeley, CA, pet therapy can be particularly impactful. These individuals may feel cut off from the world and may miss the companionship of pets they may have had earlier in their lives. Bringing dogs, cats, or even smaller animals like rabbits or birds into the facility can provide a much-needed dose of companionship and unconditional love.
Finding the Right Pets for Pet Therapy Programs
Of course, not all animals are suited to pet therapy. The animals used in these programs are carefully screened and trained to ensure that they are well-behaved, comfortable around strangers, and able to handle the stress of being in a clinical setting. Handlers and volunteers who work with these animals are also trained to effectively manage any issues that may arise during a therapy session.
For many residents, simply spending time with an animal can be incredibly therapeutic. Petting a dog or cat can be a calming, soothing activity that helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. Engaging in play with a pet can be a joyful, light-hearted activity that helps residents feel more youthful and energized.
Improved Health Outcomes
But the benefits of pet therapy go beyond just making residents feel good. There is evidence to suggest that spending time with animals can have a real, measurable impact on health outcomes. Studies have shown that pet therapy can lower blood pressure, reduce symptoms of depression, and even improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
A Low-Cost Benefit to Residents
In addition to the direct benefits for residents, pet therapy programs can also bring a sense of joy and positivity to the entire assisted living facility. Seeing the joy on residents’ faces as they interact with animals can be a heart-warming experience for staff and visitors alike. And because pet therapy is a relatively simple and affordable program to implement, it is something that can be done at virtually any assisted living facility.
Of course, it is important to remember that pet therapy is not a replacement for professional medical care. But as a supplementary therapy, it can be a wonderfully effective way to improve the quality of life for residents and help them feel more connected to the world around them.
If you or a loved one is living in an assisted living facility, consider reaching out to see if pet therapy programs are available. Spending time with animals can be a simple yet incredibly powerful way to promote health, happiness, and overall well-being.