Benefits of pet therapy for elderly adults

Animals can understand personal struggles that can’t always be expressed, allowing them to provide comfort which can improve the mental health of everyone they help.

It has been proven that animals can improve the overall well–being of all individuals regardless of their situation. For centuries animals have supported humans in many aspects of life. In pet therapy, animals help people suffering from mental or physical difficulties feel relief and a sense that someone understands what they are going through. This kind of therapy has been used in hospitals and care homes to help individuals open up and feel more at ease. Humans and animals have a natural bond which creates a feeling of comfort and understanding without the need for words.

People find it easier to connect with animals that reflect their personalities.

Therefore, some animals included in pet therapy are:

  • Horses
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea pigs
  • Birds
  • Reptiles

Find what positive impact animal therapy has on our elderly loved ones.

Emotional Benefits of Animal Therapy

Increased confidence

Many people lose confidence when they reach a certain age as they worry about being unable to complete different tasks. However, pets can motivate them in completing everyday activities by taking care of their furry friends.

Improved social life

Dogs for example are naturally social creatures, so when out and about they encourage older adults to socialise with other dog owners.

Decreased depression and anxiety

Animals have a comforting power, which instigates a calming nature in the person. People also feel reduced feelings of loneliness and boredom.

Elevating Moods

People have experienced an escape from negative emotions while being in the presence of animal friends.

Physical Benefits

Increased levels of exercise

All animals need daily activity, including humans, pet therapy encourages people to join in on regular exercise.

Increasing motor skills

The process of stroking and interacting with animals encourages older people with dementia to regain movement and motor skills

Reducing physical pain

Animals provide an outlet for mental stress as well as physical stress, which can relieve joint and muscle pains

Lowering blood pressure

Pets create a calming atmosphere around them, touching everyone whether they need it or not. It has been proven that this calm created can in turn decrease stress and therefore blood pressure.

Mental Benefits

Communication outlet

People who are in mid and later stages of dementia have difficulty communicating their feelings and thoughts. Pet therapy allows them to express their emotions in ways they feel comfortable.

Improves sense of purpose

Older adults living with dementia can soon feel like a burden, however, pet therapy can give them a sense of purpose by allowing them to care for and look after an animal.

Reduced need for prescribed medications

It has been proven that people recover quicker from surgeries and medical conditions with a positive mindset. A perfect way to encourage this mindset is pet therapy as elderly people are more motivated to get better so they can get back to caring for their furry friend.

Read the story of our little champion, Cap – Head of Animal-Assisted Therapy

My name is Cap, I joined Home Instead in 2020 when I was 9 months old. My main job is to keep everyone in the office calm and happy. I sometimes help them eat their lunch too as I have an interest in nutrition.

I quickly learned that the people I work with like helping others a lot! They are always giving advice and helping the community in all sorts of ways. As I like having a lot of cuddles I applied for this promotion and was included in the Helping the Community Team.

Something big happened in 2020, which meant that a lot of our clients couldn’t leave their houses. There was a lot of worry and uncertainty. Some didn’t go out for 20 months and others who weren’t mobile couldn’t have many visitors. This was a very lonely time for them. To help, me and the team visited these clients throughout this period to bring a little cheer to their day. I met many people. Some liked to have many cuddles and others just wanted me to sit next to them. One lady let me run around her garden like a greyhound (which I am not) chasing a hare. She laughed and giggled at my athleticism which I am really proud of. My favourite visit was when a client fed me the whole month’s treats in one go – that was amazing. The rest of the team didn’t get any treats so I’m guessing I’m the top performer in the team.

Over the past year, I’ve also been visiting a local school to support some of its students. I visit every week during the term. I see a lot of students, some more regularly than others. I get really excited to see them as they come after having lunch. I know I’m helping them as I get a full-on pamper and brush down. On the way out I often find payday on the floor! I love what I do and who I work with. We are a fantastic team who are always looking to make the world a better place. We believe that helping others a little can enable others to achieve a lot.

Learn more about companionship care in the community and find out if Home Instead Aylesbury Vale and Northeast Oxfordshire could be the right choice for you or your loved ones.

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