Animals provide love, companionship, and comfort to people of all ages. Animals have a powerful effect on individuals and their well-being. From cuddling with a purring kitten to riding a horse, there are benefits associated with spending time with animals and pets. However, you do not have to own a pet to reap the benefits of pet therapy.
At Silver Comet Village, located in Powder Springs, Georgia, we strive to create an atmosphere that contributes to the overall well-being of those who call us home. We believe that animals and pets help us achieve this mission, which is why our community is pet-friendly with a dog park and plenty of outdoor space to enjoy!
Different Types of Pet Therapy
There are a variety of ways that individuals can interact with animals and spend quality, meaningful time with them to experience the benefits of pet therapy.
This is the most obvious form of pet therapy, but it may not be for everyone. There is a certain level of commitment and responsibility associated with owning a pet. An individual needs to be independent and active enough to properly care for the pet, including walking, feeding, cleaning, playing with, grooming, and seeking veterinary care.
There is also a time commitment involved in pet ownership. If you or someone you know frequently travels or is away from home often, owning a pet would not be an ideal situation for the animal or the owner.
In visitation therapy, these animals are typically therapy-trained household pets that an owner will bring to an individual’s residence or community. This type of pet therapy is most utilized by senior living communities, as visits can be scheduled and allow for residents and guests to interact with the animals.
This form of pet therapy is for more rehabilitative-focused situations. Animals are intuitive and sensitive to human emotions; individuals are paired up and work with highly sensitive animals, such as horses, to help rebuild physical skills and confidence in the individual’s life.
Benefits of Pet Therapy
A study published in 2014 found that “animals may provide intangible benefits to the mental health of older persons, such as relief social isolation and boredom…Several investigations of the effect of pets on physical health suggest animals can lower blood pressure.”
Physical Benefits of Pet Therapy
Individuals who frequently interact with a pet tend to be more active. Playing with, grooming, or walking a pet naturally gets the individual moving. Through the exercise that pet therapy provides, older adults have shown improvement in mobility and motor skills.
Heart Health and Lower Blood Pressure
Harvard Health Publishing states, “several studies show that blood pressure goes down when a person pets a dog.” Furthermore, other research has shown that individuals who interact with animals on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing heart disease.
Mental Benefits of Pet Therapy
Many of us have had pets throughout our lives. Spending quality time with any animal or pet helps to stimulate the memory in an older individual’s mind, recalling memories of pets he or she had in previous years.
Reduces Feelings of Loneliness & Promotes Socialization
Pets and therapy animals can help to combat feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. Beyond that, “studies have also shown that pets are facilitators of getting to know people, friendship formation and social support networks (adaa.org).”
Studies have shown that 15 minutes with an animal is all it takes before the hormonal changes in the brain take place. Spending time with a pet causes the brain to produce higher serotonin levels, otherwise known as the “feel-good” hormone, prolactin, and oxytocin. When this happens, stress levels drop.
Creates a Sense of Purpose and Responsibility
Having a sense of purpose and responsibility in life is an important aspect of an individual’s overall health and well-being. Pets can help provide this for older adults, as animals are loyal to their caretakers and create a feeling of purposefulness.
Mental wellness is just as important as physical fitness in an individual’s health and well-being. Pet therapy can help with both.
Silver Comet Village in Powder Springs, Georgia, is a landmark in purposeful living. We do everything we can to help older individuals live the life that they choose. We invite you to contact us to learn more about what we have to offer or to schedule a visit to our community.
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