If your elderly mother is in need of some therapy, you might want to talk to her doctor about the value of pet therapy. Pet therapy has been shown to greatly help elderly people and their physical and emotional needs. While the real advantages of pet ownership have been well documented, researchers are finding that pet therapy is another way that animals can benefit humans. Using dogs, cats, birds and other animals, therapists can see the positive outcomes of pet therapy in their patients every day.
As a family caregiver, you really should look into whether your elderly mother might benefit from interacting with therapy animals.
Seniors Benefit Physically from Pet Therapy
Many seniors struggle with proper movement and mobility as they age. Sometimes, conditions like a stroke or arthritis make it difficult and painful to move. They may need to participate in occupational therapy or physical therapy to regain some of the skills they once had. Other times, they may simply need to be more active and exercise more to remain healthy.
Elderly adults that participate in pet therapy are less likely to overuse medication and usually visit their doctor less often. They even recover more quickly from illnesses and have a shorter recovery from surgery. No matter what physical goal they have set for themselves, seniors really do benefit from pet therapy.
Pet therapy can prompt seniors to move more, especially when petting, brushing and walking dogs and cats. Studies show that interacting with a pet can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. By caring for an animal, the elderly adults must get up and move around many times per day, and they have the motivation to do so because the animals are dependent upon them. Their motor skills improve and they feel more alert and responsible to the animal’s needs.
Seniors Benefit Emotionally from Pet Therapy
Not only do elderly adults get a lot of benefits physically from pet therapy, but there are emotional advantages as well. The most obvious gain is from companionship because the human-animal relationship can alleviate a lot of loneliness. Pet therapy contributes to a higher self-esteem in seniors because the animal is happy to see them and dependent on things like food and treats.
Researchers have found strong links between pet therapy and a reduced rated of depression and anxiety in seniors. The nurturing bonds that seniors and animals form further prove that pet therapy is beneficial. Therapists often notice improved communication in seniors through pet therapy as well as an increased motivation to engage with the animals and with others. There have been significant strides in using pet therapy to treat anxiety and depression in seniors.
Find a Pet Therapy Program
As her family caregiver, if you think that your elderly mother might benefit from pet therapy and her doctor agrees, you need to locate a program in your area. The best places to start your search are community and government senior service groups, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, pet stores and more. Pet therapy for your elderly mother may be just the thing she needs especially if she is lacking in companionship, entertainment, physical activity, mobility and anxiety or depression. It’s impossible to resist a loving pet, and that’s why pet therapy is so effective for all ages.