Why Pet Therapy is So Beneficial in Assisted Living Facilities
Pet therapy is a form of treatment that involves visits from domesticated animals to assisted living facilities. In some cases, the animal may be a patient’s former pet who is now being cared for by other family members. The pets may be brought in by a local organization and allowed to spend time with the residents. In either case, this type of therapy can have a number of positive effects on the patients. Here are some examples.
Easing Blood Pressure and Passing the Time
It’s long been established that the act of stroking or petting an animal helps to normalize blood pressure. The activity is calming for both the human and for the pet. Along with helping to keep blood pressure within a normal range, the activity also helps to pass the time. People who may be feeling a little lonesome often find spending time petting an animal makes the day more pleasant and the hours pass a little faster.
Encourages Participating in Social Groups
While the resident and the animal may spend time with each other, it’s also possible to enjoy the time as part of a group. Residents who sometimes keep to themselves are often more willing to visit the common areas and mingle with other people who are also enjoying the presence of the pets. Even as the animals are giving and receiving attention, the humans in the space are also interacting with one another and spending time together. That participation helps to encourage friendships that continue to flourish after the animals go home.
Pets Help Ease Depression
Mild to moderate depression is something many residents face daily. There’s something about the presence of another living thing that wants nothing more than to spend time with someone that helps to make the world seem a little brighter. While not a substitute for medication or counseling, spending time with a pet can help the resident to feel more emotionally balanced and lessen the symptoms of depression like lethargy, apathy, and a sense of having no energy.
Pets Help Calm Panic Attacks
Anxiety disorders often go hand in hand with depression. Residents who feel the constant mind racing that is common with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or the sudden feeling of losing control that is part of a panic attack can benefit from pet therapy. Just having a pet nearby to pet or to hold provides an anchor in a world that seems to be slipping away. In the case of GAD, time spent with the pet provides a focus and a respite from the mind racing.
Someone to Talk To
People who find it hard to talk to others will often talk to a pet. While the pet is not likely to answer in any way other than a soulful look or a wag of the tail, there is still the sense of connecting with another living being. Those conversations can help draw a person out of a self-imposed shell and maybe even lead to interacting with humans a little more often.
There is no real downside to pet therapy. That’s why the team at Prosperity Pointe in Knoxville, TN support this type of activity for their residents. As the best assisted living/senior care facility in the area, the staff is dedicated to doing all they can to make sure each patient is happy, comfortable, and given the care they deserve.