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Pet RX: Health Benefits of Pet-Therapy for Seniors

Wed, Feb 08, 2017 at 10:20AM

Pet RX: Health Benefits of Pet-Therapy for Seniors


Pets are excellent companions, but did you know they can also provide significant health benefits to the elderly? Research has shown that seniors who are in regular contact with animals may live healthier and happier lives. Here are some important benefits pets provide:



  • Encourage physical activity – Whether petting, brushing, feeding, or walking, pet care is great for keeping a senior physically active.


  • Increase sense of purpose- The sense of being needed gives seniors motivation to stay positive and feel a greater sense of self-worth.


  • Decrease levels of stress- Just 15 minutes spent with an animal can lower cortisol and increase serotonin, the hormone that naturally regulates your mood. This translates into lower blood pressure, decreased heart rate, and less stress.


  • Encourage social interaction- Loneliness is a contributing factor to declining health for seniors. A pet not only can be a loving companion, but also provide a topic for conversations to have with others.


Pet Therapy in Assisted-Living

Studies have also found that pets provide one of the few interventions capable of positively changing the atmosphere of a nursing home or assisted-living facility long-term. If having your own pet at a facility is not feasible, consider scheduling pet-therapy sessions. Believe it or not, you can hire a “Pet Therapist” from a private company to make regularly scheduled visits, but therapy can be as simple as a relative bringing a pet for a visit. Certainly, a pet visit is not for everyone, keeping in mind people with allergies and those who are uncomfortable around animals, but it is a great option for pet lovers and those missing their furry companion at home. Of course, pets come in a variety of shapes and sizes so think out of the “litter” box. Guinea pigs, birds, fish, rabbits, turtles, hamsters, and hermit crabs can all be welcomed house guests given the right temperament and situation.


Helpful Hints

As you are researching assisted-living facilities in the New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange, and Daytona Beach area, don’t forget to ask about pet policies. Be sure to keep in mind the well-being of both the senior and the pet during the decision making process. Visit the County Health Care Guide to learn more about senior placement and all that Volusia County has to offer for you or your loved one. https://goo.gl/q3miYG



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