Pets in a Facility
Pets are great. Whether you identify as a dog person or a cat person, animal lovers everywhere agree that there is just something soothing about having a beloved pet in their lives. Dogs trained in therapy will often go to hospitals as part of an animal therapy program provided to patients. You can see the effect that these pets have on patient as their eyes light up, a smile forms on their faces, and they are suddenly vibrant and full of life again.
In the same way, having a pet with you at a nursing home or assisted living facility can be just as beneficial. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that having a pet with you can help:
- 1. They’re good for senior health.
In a review taken from the American Journal of Critical Care, it was reported that pets give us different benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, less pain, more happiness, and they help provide us with the motivation we need to get better. Some studies have even shown that both heart rate and stress levels drop almost at once when pets come on the scene. In the long run, people who interact with their pets can experience lower cholesterol levels, better ability to fight depression, and may even an increased protection against things like heart disease and stroke.
- 2. They give purpose.
Perhaps one of the most important things that pets can do for us is to give us a sense of purpose. After all, if we know that we have something counting on us, it can help to take our focus off of ourselves and how we’re feeling and put it on something that is relying on us to help groom, feed, and walk them. Caring for something like that can help to make us happy as well, and that’s certainly a plus.
- 3. They benefit the entire assisted-living community.
Having a pet around doesn’t just benefit the owner; rather it helps lift the spirits of the community as a whole. People who are new or reserved can be eased out of their shyness or discomfort in being somewhere unfamiliar if there’s a well-behaved pet around.
- 4. They can decrease sundown syndrome (sun downing).
Sun downing (or Sundown Syndrome) is defined as periods of increased agitation or confusion in the evenings that is present in some Alzheimer’s sufferers. The unconditional support and acceptance a pet provides can be beneficial and soothing to those who have trouble using language.
- 5. They improve life holistically.
Workers at the San Diego Human Society’s Pet-Assisted Therapy Program have seen that even those people who were profoundly affected by illness regained an improved appetite, had more social interaction, and better tactile and cognitive stimulation after they had interacted with pets.
For anyone considering a move to an assisted-living facility, the stress and uncertainty of going somewhere new can be greatly decreased when you remember you don’t necessarily have to abandon a favorite pet in order to do it. Caregivers should add “pet friendly” to their search criteria when helping a loved one find a place. Having a familiar and loved animal friend can work wonders in helping someone adjust to a new and home and lifestyle.