Dogs make people happy. They make people smile. Who doesn’t love to pet a dog or visit with a furry four-legged friend?!? But not only are they fun…they actually have been shown to have great benefits for our physical, emotional and mental health.
Pet Therapy or Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, physical, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning. Animal therapy can be an effective intervention in a wide variety of settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other locations where the presence of a loving animal can ease physical, mental, or emotional distress and bring joy to those that may be suffering.
As a result of their patient and calm demeanor, senior canines make perfect candidates for Animal Therapists.
Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks
Sanctuary Residents of the appropriate disposition will be trained and certified as part of a Pet Therapy Team. Teams will consist of a certified sanctuary resident and one certified staff member or volunteer. The certification process is modeled off the program used by Therapy Dogs Inc., an organization that specializes in evaluating animals and their human handlers for therapy work.
To become certified, each dog must learn new behaviors that our essential to Pet Therapy. By documenting the training process and sharing our success, we will have undeniable evidence that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Once a team is certified, they will visit schools, libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, and other locations in the community where the presence of a loving animal can ease physical, mental, or emotional distress and bring joy to those who are suffering. The primary focus of our therapy work will be in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes, because we think seniors helping seniors just makes sense.
Benefits of Pet Therapy For Assisted-Living Seniors
Research has shown how beneficial pet therapy can be to the elderly, especially those who are living in a nursing home. Regular visits with pets, usually dogs, can have positive physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Physical benefits include lowering blood pressure, lowering heart rate, and reducing overall stress. Emotional benefits are reducing anxiety and depression, decreasing loneliness through increasing social interaction with the pets and their human companions.
Spending as little as 15 minutes with a pet, once a week, can produce measurable results, in both physical and mental health, for participating seniors.
Pet Therapy and Memory Care
Consistent interaction with a pet has been shown to cause an increased release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain which can help calm and soothe a person’s body. This can be helpful for patients with Alzheimer’s dementia, as regular pet visits may help to decrease unwanted behaviors and calm their agitation. Also there are mental benefits that are a result of increased mental stimulation, whether it’s talking to the pet directly, asking questions to the dog’s owner or talking with other residents about the dog. All of these things help to keep the brain active, which is essential for maintaining cognitive functioning in those suffering from various forms of dementia.
National Council on Aging Highlights the Need for Pet Therapy in New Report.
Read the full report here.
Hours - 37
Smiles Earned - Too Many to Count
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Want to Learn More?
You can learn more about senior dogs, and sanctuary residents on our blog.
Why Adopt Senior?
Benefits of pets on their human companions are well documented, and senior dogs are no exception. Learn about these benefits and more.