Pets have the remarkable ability to make us happy just watching them be themselves. They provide unconditional love and can make a crummy day seem just a little less crummy. So it’s no surprise that like many other alternative therapies, – such as music, for instance – pet therapy is being embraced in today’s medical community growing in popularity in recent years.
With that, Dogwood Forest strongly believes in the benefit of pet therapy for its residents, so much so that it recently launched a new pet therapy program called PAWSitive Outcomes.
Here are some of the positive outcomes gained when using pet therapy for senior adults. Having a pet to care for can give us a sense of purpose. Many times, residents have to adjust to a new life when moving into a community. They no longer live on their own, and may be more dependent on others for their well-being, which can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. But when they have a pet to walk, brush, feed, or play with, they are able to find a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth. Residents are more willing to socialize, will participate in more group activities, and have more self-confidence after caring for a therapy dog. Pet therapy has been shown to improve the quality of life for people dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Recent studies have shown that consistent pet therapy has encouraged even those who have more advanced forms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Memory care patients were shown to eat more, socialize with others, and have more tactile and cognitive stimulation. While pet therapy is not a cure for memory loss, the unconditional love of a devoted pet has shown to increase the overall happiness of patients who are struggling with memory issues. This is often attributed to the non-judgmental, eternally happy nature of a therapy dog, which allows each resident to feel safe and secure in their environment. Interacting with pets on a consistent basis improves physical health. From lowering blood pressure to decreasing joint pain, the health benefits of pet therapy are numerous. For patients who require physical therapy, caring for a pet has been shown to decrease recovery time as well as increased fine motor skills and development.
Petting a dog will actually prompt a feeling of relaxation, which has led to patients needing fewer medications after pet therapy. Endorphins are also released when interacting with a pet – it literally makes people happier and calmer to play with a dog. These are just a few of the ways that pet therapy can change a senior’s life for the better. These pets are carefully trained to work with each resident, and they have enough love for the whole community. If you are deciding whether assisted living is the right step for your parent, reach out to Dogwood Forest and ask how pet therapy can help.
For more information about Dogwood Forest of Grayson currently under construction, please call 678-496-2319 or visit us at www.dogwoodforest.com/grayson