Senior Benefits From Pet Therapy

Senior Benefits From Pet Therapy

Pets are one way to improve an individual’s quality of life. Orchard at Athens is a senior living community in Athens Georgia that invites residents to bring pets with them. Orchard also provides many opportunities for residents who love animals to regularly interact with them. We understand the many because we understand the many benefits that pet therapy can provide for seniors.

Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that pairs dogs or other animals with people to help with recovering from health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders. Animal-assisted activities, on the other hand, have a more general purpose. One of these purposes is providing comfort and enjoyment. As this field grows, more and more communities are implementing pets as part of their daily programming.

Pet therapy builds on the pre-existing human-animal bond which has developed over thousands of years. Historically animals have helped alert indigenous people to dangers and threatening situations. Therefore, we inherently know that if animals are at rest, all is well. Additionally, because dogs and humans have evolved together for thousands of years, eye contact between dogs and humans, releases oxytocin in the body which helps create social bonds.

Senior Benefits From Pet Therapy

There are many benefits of pet therapy and interacting with a friendly pet has been found to help with:

  • Improving physical and mental issues
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Improving overall cardiovascular health
  • Releasing endorphins that produce a calming effect
  • Helping alleviate pain
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving overall psychological state

Goals of Pet Therapy

Pet therapy can be used in different ways, and some of the goals of a pet therapy program can include:

  • Improving motor skills and joint movement
  • Improving assisted or independent movement
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Increasing verbal communication
  • Developing social skills
  • Increasing willingness to join in activities
  • Improving interactions with others
  • Encouraging daily exercise

Additional Benefits of Pet Therapy

Other benefits of pet therapy include:

  • Reducing boredom
  • Increasing happiness
  • Lessening depression
  • Reducing anxiety because of its calming effects
  • Decreasing loneliness and isolation
  • Improving the relationship between someone and their healthcare provider

Who Can Benefit From Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems:

  • Children having dental procedures
  • People receiving cancer treatment
  • Elders in long-term care communities
  • People with cardiovascular diseases
  • People living with dementia
  • Veterans living post-traumatic stress disorder
  • People with anxiety

People with health problems are not the only ones who can reap the benefits of pet therapy. Family members and friends who sit in on animal visits say they feel better, too.

Pet therapy is also being used in nonmedical settings, such as universities and community programs, to help people deal with anxiety and stress of life. Animal-assisted interventions are goal oriented and structured to intentionally incorporate animals in health, education and human service for the purpose of therapeutic gains and improved health and wellness.

Orchard at Athens will utilize innovative programs such as pet therapy to enhance connection and provide continued life giving experiences for residents. Meaningful relationship is a cornerstone for this luxury assisted living. Please contact us to learn more about our community.

If you are interested in learning more about pet therapy, the following link can provide additional information: