Are you wondering how to help a senior loved one cope with depression? Have your ageing parent lost a loved one? Or perhaps you are looking for help and companionship?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you will be interested in animal therapy! Discover the advantages of owning therapy pets for the elderly and help yourself or your loved ones to combat loneliness and mental problems.
What is pet therapy?
Pet therapy is a form of treatment in which pets or trained animals play an important role in the treatment or rehabilitation of patients. Pet therapy aims to improve patients’ emotional, physical and social health.
During pet therapy, patients interact with the animals in a variety of ways, depending on their needs and abilities. These may include stroking, cuddling, playing with, walking the dog, feeding or participating in various games and exercises with the animals.
Pet therapy can help patients with a variety of health conditions, including mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and bipolar affective disorder, as well as physical illnesses such as heart disease, rheumatic diseases, respiratory diseases and neurological diseases. Pet therapy is a relatively new therapy discipline, yet it is gaining popularity and acceptance among patients and therapists. The positive effects of animals on humans are known to be well documented, and pet therapy is becoming a more and more recognized form of complementary therapy in the medical field.
What does pet therapy for seniors consist of?
Pet therapy for seniors involves using contact with animals to improve the quality of life and health of older people. Animal therapy involves regular interactions with selected animals such as dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, birds, or fish.
During pet therapy sessions, seniors have the opportunity to spend time with friendly and gentle animals, which can help reduce stress, anxiety and a sense of isolation. Furthermore, interactions with animals can stimulate the senses, improve mood and boost physical activity.
What are the benefits of pet therapy for older people?
Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, can have many benefits for older people. Here are some of the key benefits of pet therapy:
- Improving emotional well-being – interacting with an animal can help reduce feelings of loneliness and depression, a common problem among older people.
- Improved physical health – walking a dog, stroking a cat or interacting with another animal can help increase physical activity, which has a positive impact on overall health.
- Reducing stress and anxiety – animals are usually associated with positive emotions and pleasant experiences, which can help reduce stress and anxiety levels in seniors.
- Improving cognitive abilities – animal-assisted therapy can help stimulate cognitive abilities, especially in seniors with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
- Facilitate social interaction – pet therapy can help with social interaction through interaction with the therapist and others involved in therapy.
- Improving the quality of life – pet therapy can help improve seniors’ quality of life by increasing their sense of meaning and purpose, as well as improving interpersonal relationships.
Which pet therapy animal will be best for the senior?
Choosing the right pet for therapy depends on the preferences and needs of the senior and the type of therapy you want to provide. Pet therapy usually uses dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds and even fish.
When it comes to choosing therapy pets for a senior, it is important to consider their physical condition and health, as some pets are more demanding to care for than others. In the case of seniors who are unable to do more strenuous activities, the best choice would be pets that are small and easy to care for, such as cats as dogs for older people may be difficult if the senior has trouble walking.
Cats are quiet and calm animals who enjoy being stroked and cuddled. They can help reduce stress and improve mood in seniors. Small dogs, such as a chihuahua or Yorkshire terrier, are friendly, easy to care for and can help keep seniors active.
Each animal has its unique characteristics and traits that can affect the effectiveness of pet therapy. Therefore, it is best to consult with a pet therapy therapist to help select the right pet to suit the senior’s needs and preferences and the type of therapy.
Pet therapy – summary
The advantages of having dogs for older people and other therapy pets are tremendous – with animal therapy, seniors do not feel lonely and have a sense of purpose. Caring for a pet also forces them to get out of the house more often and be physically active, as well as socialising, so it is worth recommending this form of therapy to a senior friend.