Benefits of Pet Therapy for Aging Adults

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Many family caregivers confuse therapy pets with service animals. However, they’re not the same thing. A service pet provides assistance to a disabled person, while a therapy animal serves to boost or sustain a person’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive wellbeing. A therapy pet can be any type of animal, but it’s typically a dog or cat that has gone through special training.

Therapy pets can help people undergoing physical therapy or rehabilitation, individuals with special needs, and seniors who reside in nursing homes or receive home care. These animals provide a wide range of benefits for aging adults. The advantages of introducing pet therapy to your senior loved one include providing companionship, encouraging better health, and promoting longevity. Below are just a few notable examples of the various perks a therapy pet can provide your loved one.

Physical Benefits

Seniors with therapy pets are likely to have lower blood pressure and increased heart health. Having a pet therapy companion promotes a sense of calm and increases relaxation. Petting animals also causes the body to produce endorphins, which are chemicals that block the perception of pain signals, reducing physical discomfort and many other effects of illnesses in aging adults. This can be especially beneficial for seniors who are living with chronic pain or receiving medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

Pets need daily attention, including essentials such as food, water, and exercise. When older adults work to meet the needs of their therapy pets, they’re more likely to lead more active lifestyles themselves. The additional activity required to care for a pet provides health benefits that can stave off illnesses such as heart disease and stroke. In addition, studies have shown seniors with therapy pets typically require less medical care. 

Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

Mental Benefits

Therapy pets also boost mental health in aging adults by helping seniors relieve stress and stave off feelings of loneliness. Pets provide constant companionship for seniors, which equates to reduced isolation. Older adults can snuggle with their pets and talk to them, which gives seniors comfort from knowing they aren’t alone. Therapy pets also provide an endless source of entertainment, which stimulates aging adults’ cognitive skills and sharpens their mental acuity. 

Having therapy pets also provides older adults with unique opportunities for social interaction and mental stimulation, which can prevent cognitive decline. Pets naturally cause seniors to open up and talk to them as well as other pet owners. This keeps the brain active and can stave off or slow the advance of dementia symptoms.

Pet therapy can be especially beneficial for seniors with cognitive impairment due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who don’t have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. Waterloo Home Care Assistance provides Alzheimer’s care seniors and their families can depend on. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives.

Emotional Benefits

The interaction between seniors and therapy pets can promote emotional stability during stressful times. This emotional stability is due to the bonds that develop between the pets and the seniors. These bonds can reduce anxiety and depression, in part because seniors feel a sense of purpose while caring for their pets. Petting therapy animals also reduces anxiety because it releases endorphins in the brain, which promotes positivity and relaxation.

Therapy pets can be amazing companions for older adults living with a wide variety of age-related conditions. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care Waterloo, ON, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. If your loved one needs professional home care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (647) 992 0224 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.

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