07 Oct 2016

Puppy Power: Just How Beneficial Can Pet Therapy Be For Your Residents?

Puppy Power: Just How Beneficial Can Pet Therapy Be For Your Residents?

Britain is renowned for being a nation of animal lovers - even the Queen has a thing for horses and dogs, especially corgis. Out of every two households in the UK, one owns a pet. Many people own pets because they’re known to be calming and comforting, and seem to understand human emotions and moods. If a cat senses that you’re sad, he or she may purr and rub up against you as a way of offering comfort.

For anyone who loves the comfort that a pet can bring, having to give that up when getting older and having to go into a home can be upsetting. It can evoke feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression caused by separation. Believe it or not, a dog rolling on its back or a cat snuggling up beside you can relax anyone, regardless of age.

Because of this, many care homes across the country have started offering pet therapy to their residents. While in most care homes pets come to visit once or twice a week, at others pets are allowed to live on site. The benefits of residents spending time with pets on a regular basis are fantastic - pets can make such a big difference to happiness in care homes.

Below are some of the ways that pet therapy could benefit your residents.

Pets can boost physical health

Studies have shown that spending time with a pet can help to lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and release endorphins that help to calm the mind. Stroking a pet creates a relaxation response within the brain, helping to calm the mind and reduce pain. So much so, that spending time with a pet on a regular basis can lead to a reduction in the amount of medication that some residents need. (There’s an interesting fact for you!)

They can also aid mental health

It has also been proven that the companionship of a pet can reduce stress and anxiety, ease depression, provide comfort, reduce loneliness, and encourage socialisation. This is because playing with or stroking a dog or cat (or any furry animal) elevates the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the body, which help the mind and body to relax.

Then there’s the fact that a lot of animals are more attuned to humans than we realise and can understand our feelings and moods. Dogs, in particular, have evolved to be able to gauge human emotions and behaviour. They may not be able to speak human, but they can interpret our body language, expressions, and tone of voice. If a resident is feeling down in the dumps, a cuddle from their favourite furry friend just might be the answer!

Pets can help to motivate

As we get older, our bodies suffer from a range of physical problems that make staying healthy somewhat of a challenge. However, research has shown that older adults who spend time with animals on a regular basis, tend to be healthier, happier and more energetic. As well as less prone to joint and mobility problems, due to being more active.

They can make life happier for dementia sufferers

As part of the condition, many Alzheimer’s sufferers exhibit a range of behavioural problems. Many of these symptoms are linked to the fact that they can no longer deal with stress effectively.

However, studies have shown that when an Alzheimer’s sufferer spends time with pets, they tend to have less anxious outbursts and suffer less stress. By spending time petting a gentle animal, dementia sufferers are not only calmer and less stressed, but also less likely to become aggressive.

So, having a pooch to pet or a cat snuggled on their lap really can make your resident’s lives that little bit brighter.

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