There are a wide variety of different techniques and methods to uplift your mood, including medications, therapy, keeping your body healthy, and maintaining regular social interactions with family and friends.
One method that has rapidly gained traction in healthcare, educational, and senior living environments is pet therapy. Multiple studies and eyewitnesses report that pet therapy can help bring depressed or withdrawn older adults out of their shells and remind them of time spent with past pets.
The Pillars Senior Living communities understand the importance of mental health and overall well-being for our residents, which is why all of our senior living communities have a live-in dog that joins our residents in their day-to-day activities and brings a smile to their faces!
Here is our list of some of the benefits of pet therapy to seniors:
1. A Calming Effect
Seniors suffering from the effects of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other memory disorders may frequently become frustrated or aggravated. Studies show that the presence of an animal has a calming effect on older adults and may help alleviate some of these behavioral outbursts. Petting a furry friend like a dog or cat calms both the body and the senses, and the animal will likely return your affection, making you feel even better.
Memory care is an important aspect of what we provide those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia at all our Pillars locations. The memory care neighborhood is in a controlled-access area created to accommodate those who become easily disoriented or have a tendency to wander. Residents live in their own private apartments with private baths but gather for meals and activities in family-style dining and living rooms.
While many pet therapy services offer traveling animals that visit senior living communities on a regular schedule, keeping a personal pet can provide a closer bond than a designated support animal. Having a furry friend at hand can also help quash feelings of loneliness or depression before they become too overpowering. Additionally, taking a dog for a walk or joining online groups for other pet owners is a great way to meet new people.
3. Improved Physical Health
In addition to the mental health benefits therapy animals and pets can provide, they can also promote physical activity and better nutrition, according to several studies. Playing with a pet or therapy animal is a great way to stay active, and if you’re taking good care of your pet, chances are you’ll be taking good care of yourself, as well. Additionally, suppose you’re in a better mood. In that case, you’re more likely to eat well.
4. Providing a Sense of Purpose
For many retired adults, especially those dealing with recent personal losses or depression, getting out of bed can be a struggle. The daily tasks and care associated with pet ownership can spur you out of bed and inspire you to treat yourself better. If you’re preparing food for a dog or cat, why not make a meal for yourself while you’re at it?
We hope these benefits of pet therapy were able to paint a good picture of why pet ownership or therapy animals can be great choices for seniors. The Pillars Senior Living communities recognize these benefits and are committed to offering our seniors the benefits of pet ownership but without individual responsibility.
Our facilities have a deep love for our dogs and so do our residents! For more discussion about daily senior living, check out our additional blog posts.