The Gifts of Pet Companionship
Between technological advances in the medical field and the Internet, information about healthcare, remedies and therapies are accessible at the touch of a button. With all this digital knowledge so readily available, it’s easy to lose track of one of the most basic ways to stay mentally and physically healthy: the companionship of a pet!
Studies show that seniors who own or spend time with pets have lower blood pressure, reduced stress, and an increase in social interaction and physical activity. Many aren’t aware that animals are playing a growing role in healthcare. They can be trained to detect seizures, used in speech or occupational therapy, or even physical rehabilitation. However, most common is the value they bring as companions. Companionship and having something positive to focus on, like a pet, can reduce depression and loneliness, important factors to consider since many seniors live alone, may not be as active as they once were, or are perhaps, isolated.
It should come as no surprise then, that animals are being utilized in senior communities for therapeutic purposes. Animal Assisted Therapy engages animals and seniors to improve quality of life. Some of the benefits include:
- Improved balance
- Improved fine motor skills
- Increased focus and attention
- Increased self-esteem and ability to care for oneself
- Reduced anxiety, grief and isolation
- Reduced blood pressure, depression, and risk of heart attack or stroke
- Improved willingness to be involved in a therapeutic program or group activity
- Increased trust, empathy and teamwork
- Enhanced problem-solving skills
- Improved social skills
It has been widely documented that as little as 15 minutes per day with a pet creates hormonal changes in the brain due to the release of serotonin, a hormone demonstrated to promote happiness. As noted in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, simply petting or loving a pet offers noteworthy physical benefits, such as improving heart health by reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Add walking a pet and the physical benefits increase substantially.
Animal companionship or pet ownership is beneficial on an emotional level as well, as the mere presence of a pet can provide stability during stressful situations. Pets tend to get their owners out and socializing. Whether it’s a walk in the park or striking up a conversation at the pet store about dog training, cat toys or popular treats for pet birds, pet owners tend to talk about their furry or feathered friends. Often times, this renewed focus can give life new meaning.
While social support and companionship from friends and family is important and beneficial, those relationships can sometimes be sources of stress, which is less likely to happen with the companionship from a pet. National Pet Month is in May, which is plenty of time to weigh the options of pet ownership, or, find a nearby facility that provides Animal Assisted Therapy and offers companionship opportunities without the expense of ownership…and none of the cleanup!
Our community allows seniors to age in place with caring, professional staff, numerous amenities and activities, and assistance every step of the way. Explore our website or call us today to talk to our staff concerning the services and amenities that we offer.