Originally published Oct 11, 2018, updated October 27, 2022.
Those of us who own pets know they make us happy. Anyone who has spent time with a loving dog or heard the soft buzz of a cat’s purr knows that animals have a powerful effect on people.
A growing body of scientific research is showing that our pets can also make us healthier.
This is why pet therapy or animal assisted therapy is a popular and effective form of therapy, especially in the elderly community. Here at All Seniors Care, we always make a point of staying on top of the best, most impactful treatments to ensure that our residents’ quality of life is as high as possible.
Pet Therapy Sounds Great, What Is It?
It’s just about as simple as it sounds: research shows that when people – especially older adults – regular play or interact with an animal, they experience health benefits across an incredibly wide spectrum.
- Pets can increase mobility from activities such as brushing and petting.
- Provide an incentive to exercise if they need a walk or want to play fetch.
- Lower blood pressure by the simple, gentle, non-judgmental nature of the relationship.
- Social stimulation from interacting with the pets’ handlers.
- Planning & flexibility from needing to feed the pet at appropriate times and respond to its spontaneous behaviour.
- Memory stimulation from comparing it to other pets from previous visits.
We’ve seen amazing results from pet therapy in our retirement residences for seniors in Ontario, Manitoba and beyond. It truly does work wonders!
Where do the Pets Come From?
Some of our residents bring their own pets, at no extra charge! Our caring staff helps manage the animals and everyone gets to enjoy a furry residence mascot 24/ 7. Otherwise, we arrange for animals to visit.
Often, pet owners with well-trained animals (most often dogs) lend their pooches through programs sponsored by the humane society, or other non-profit organizations. To put your mind at ease, these pets are always screened to be sure they meet three crucial criteria:
- Temperament – must have a calm temperament, since a rowdy pup that loves to jump around and make mischief could disturb some residents.
- “People” Dog – should be predisposed towards attention from anyone.
- Non-reactive – most dogs are used to the stable environment of their home. Even if a dog is usually very calm in a home setting, they may be overwhelmed by strange sights and sounds and start barking and jumping on people.
Non-Traditional Therapy Animals
Birds and fish don’t take up much space or require as much care or attention. Fish and birds can help create a more pleasant atmosphere. Fluffy rabbits, guinea pigs, event the odd snake has visited with our residents. We have also had great success with visiting with farm animals.
Benefits of Therapy Dogs
We’ve observed our residents brightening up immediately when a favourite pet owner stops by to drop off their poodle – there’s an immediate point of connection, and the physical affection shown by dogs is incredibly valuable.
Much of what keeps us healthy and vital on a day-to-day basis is that simple feeling of connection. A visit from an affectionate and playful animal creates a point of connection between individuals and the pet, and between all of the residents who are bonding over the playful pet. The valuable bonding experience is at the core of all of our group activities, from shuffleboard and bocce ball to gardening and baking.
Pets Encourage an Active Lifestyle
All Seniors Care makes a point of providing walking paths and green space, which is ideal for walking animals. Furthermore, animals themselves remind us of nature, of the wilderness and all the beauty and possibilities it contains. A connection with nature relieves stress and releases endorphins, making for a happier, healthier mind.
Pet Friendly Retirement Homes in Canada
Here at All Seniors Care, we place a lot of emphasis on the activities of daily living, including mobilizing, communicating, eating well, and so on. As you get older, making sure you’re ticking these fundamental boxes leads to a happy, well-rounded lifestyle.
Aside from entertainment and programming that includes Wii bowling, aqua fit, billiards, chair yoga and gardening clubs (you can check out our latest events and browse the ASC Facebook page for upcoming ones), we also encourage more focused therapeutic activities such as sensory rooms, basic strength training and pet therapy. Whether our residents bring their own pets or need pets brought in to visit, we are happy to help them experience the many benefits of cuddling a furry friend!
You can see pictures of some of the wonderful pets and lots more over on our Instagram account if you’re curious.
You can learn more about us and our dedication to creating the best retirement residences in Canada by exploring our website, and feel free to call anytime for more info!