Pets as Therapy

by | Sep 27, 2023 | Resources | 0 comments

Many individuals find solace and joy in the companionship of pets. However, concerns arise when transitioning to care or nursing homes, as residents fear parting with their beloved animals. Yet, this need not always be the case. Several care homes now welcome pets, while others arrange for pet therapy sessions, ensuring residents can maintain a connection with animals.

Pet therapy involves trained animals providing companionship to individuals in various settings, including care homes, hospitals, and schools. These animals offer emotional, social, and cognitive support, serving as valuable sources of comfort and discussion for residents.

The advantages of incorporating pet therapy into care home activities are numerous:

  1. Enhanced Mental Wellbeing: Interacting with animals like cats, dogs, or rabbits triggers the release of serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, known as “happy hormones.” This leads to relaxation and reduced anxiety. Pet therapy has also shown promise in soothing residents with dementia, mitigating agitation-associated behaviors.
  2. Improved Physical Health: Activities such as grooming animals or playing with dogs facilitate physical activity during therapy sessions. Studies indicate that pet therapy can even contribute to health condition management, such as reducing blood pressure in individuals with heart conditions.
  3. Stimulated Reminiscence: Pets often evoke memories of residents’ past pets, sparking conversations and reminiscences among them.
  4. Alleviated Loneliness and Increased Social Interaction: Pets serve as companions, encouraging social encounters within care homes. Whether through interactions during walks or discussions prompted by the presence of animals, residents benefit from increased socialization.

Pet therapy isn’t limited to conventional pets like dogs and cats; other animals such as horses, donkeys, and alpacas also participate. While some animals may seem unconventional, they still offer interest and conversation starters. Additionally, residents’ families may bring well-behaved pets for visits, fostering personal connections and providing comfort.

Dogs are particularly popular in care homes, often belonging to staff members or residents’ families. Cats, though less common due to their training requirements, offer unique experiences for residents. Birds, ranging from budgerigars to birds of prey, and larger animals like alpacas and horses, can also serve as therapy animals, enriching residents’ experiences and interactions.

In conclusion, pet therapy in care homes offers numerous benefits, including emotional support, physical activity, and social interaction, ensuring residents continue to experience the joys of companionship and connection with animals.

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