Animal therapy for the elderly
Animals not only offer companionship and unconditional love, in fact, emerging research suggests they may have the ability to boost health and general well-being, especially in the elderly.
What is animal therapy?
Animal therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, is a type of therapy involving animals as a form of treatment. The goal may be to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.
Animal therapy can be offered in a residential aged care setting, retirement living, home and community care, and rehabilitation centres and hospices. Animals used in the therapy may include domesticated dogs and birds.
Benefits of Animal Therapy
Research has revealed many benefits to pet therapy; some of which may include:
•Decreased blood pressure and stress
•Improved communication and reminiscence
•Many people who are normally unresponsive to other therapies may ‘brighten up’ and ‘chat’ with a pet.
•Animals may motivate and encourage the elderly to stay healthy and exercise, giving them a feeling of being ‘needed’.
•Motor skills may improve with the assistance of an animal trained for pet therapy.
Did you know pet owners…
•visit the doctors less often and use less medication
•on average, they have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure
•recover more quickly from illness and surgery and deal better with stress
•are less likely to be lonely.