Animals have long been a welcome addition to many peoples’ homes. From enthusiastic dogs to relaxed cats or vice versa, small furry creatures add some color and variety to life. They feel like part of the family. And most of all, they bring joy to the people they live with.
While owning a pet is a big responsibility, the unconditional love and companionship they provide are more than worth it. The medical field has recently begun to recognize this more and incorporate animal visits into treatment and therapy for many patients. While this professional handling of animals is an excellent way to help patients, why stop there? Why not give your senior loved one the gift of continual pet therapy with an animal companion of their own?
As your loved ones age and are able to do less for themselves, they can begin to feel like they aren’t contributing anything meaningful and have nothing to do. In turn, this can lead to feelings of depression or boredom. Having a small animal to take care of will give your family members a sense of purpose and responsibility as they care for someone who needs it. Even if it’s something as simple as feeding the cat or taking the dog for a walk, knowing that this pet relies on them can make a huge difference.
Pro Tip: Most assisted living communities allow residents to bring pets. However, always make sure you know if any breeds are excluded for safety or allergy concerns.
Old age can be isolating. An assisted living community filled with peers can be a massive help, but it’s not always enough to help a loved one come out of their shell. A pet can help provide an additional sense of friendship and social confidence that your loved ones need. After all, now they have a “roommate” to talk to and play with! This added companionship will help your senior family members feel more confident in their social life as a whole and feel loved at home.
Finally, science has confirmed what most people already know: pets make us happy! Owning and caring for a pet stimulates the regular production of serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone that gives people a sense of calm and happiness. Owning a pet will absolutely boost your loved ones’ mental health. Who knows? It might even benefit other residents in the assisted living community too!
Pet Ownership for Seniors
Many assisted living facilities recognize the health benefits of pet therapy for seniors and will welcome your loved ones’ cats, dogs, or other small animals when they move in. If they haven’t already made the decision, encourage your aging family members to become pet owners and watch their mental and physical health improve. A new companion may be just what they need!
Join the conversation to learn more about pet therapy for seniors and caring for their new furry companion.