From playing and walking to petting and cuddling, therapy dogs for seniors offer countless mental and physical benefits upon every interaction. Serving Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties in Oregon, Serenity Home Care has witnessed this firsthand and believes that the cheerful disposition of a therapy animal is the perfect medicine for elderly or in-care loved ones, who live with conditions ranging from chronic illness to dementia. Here, we explore the use of therapy animals, the advantages they are known to provide, and how to determine if a therapy animal is the right fit.
Relational Value of Animal Interaction
Often triggering a natural sense of caretaking in people, therapy dogs for seniors create a unique bonding experience with those they encounter. This not only is comforting but can also lead to an improved mental state in your loved one and help them combat feelings of loneliness. Sometimes, animal therapy can also trigger positive memories of past pets to help brighten their outlook even more.
Another benefit of animal therapy is increased social interaction. If your loved one is able to take a therapy dog out for a walk, for example, this can form a sense of community with other pet-owners in their neighborhood.
Physiological Benefits of Animal Therapy
Believe it or not, there are physiological changes that take place when humans enjoy animal therapy. When interacting with a calm pet, the effect transfers over into your loved one and can reduce levels of cortisol in the body, the primary stress hormone that often has negative effects. Just as this lowers cortisol, cuddling with a pet raises serotonin, the hormone that creates feelings of happiness. As this happy relaxation response continues, animal therapy can even improve blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Positive hormone release can also significantly decrease physical pain.
Another core benefit of animal therapy is that it can boost the physical activity level of your family member or loved one. Being able to walk a dog, even in small amounts, is a great form of exercise that can make small but meaningful impacts on their overall wellbeing.
Factors to Consider
There are certain elements that go into deciding if a therapy animal is the right fit. For instance, consider your loved one’s past experiences, as therapy pets can be immensely helpful for those struggling with PTSD and veterans but may not be ideal for everyone. Other factors to consider include:
- Checking for pet allergies
- Whether the pet is properly vaccinated
- Finding a pet with a proven track record of good human interaction
- Finding a pet that is comfortable in different external environments
- And more.
Choosing Animal Therapy for Your Loved One
Therapy dogs for seniors can provide endless benefits for the elderly or those in a compromised physical or mental state, as animal therapy is designed to facilitate healing. Since 2006, Serenity Home Care has provided seniors and their families with tailored, loving care and makes animal therapy available to our clients with an interest. For more information or advice in determining whether this is right for your loved one, contact us today.