Pets are Therapeutic For Elders

Two dogs

It’s amazing to me just how therapeutic pets really are.

If you have a pet, you know they are not just an animal, they are friends and family. They are quiet listeners and entertainers, and they give us unconditional love. Pets are therapeutic.

Pets are great for older persons too. Whether they have a pet of their own or you bring a pet to visit here are some of the  many benefits for older persons.

  • Pets can reduce stress. Petting an animal and being in the presence of an animal can increase relaxation.
  • Visiting a pet might relieve pain. Thinking about something else for a while can make us stop thinking about our feelings of pain.
  • Pets can increase social interaction and decrease the feeling of loneliness that sometimes sneaks up on us as we age.
  • Pet visits are one of the greatest activities for sensory stimulation. Interactions with animals enhance the sense of sight, smell, touch, and hearing.
  • Pets can reduce issues of agitation and frustration. These issues may be replaced with more positive behaviors such as laughter, gentleness, and an overall feeling of happiness.
  • Pets can increase physical activity levels. Whether an older person walks a dog, pets a cat, or feeds the birds or fish it requires physical activity which sometimes decreases with age.
  • If your loved one owns a pet it provides a wonderful companion as well as gives them something to care for. Having a daily routine that includes caring for a pet gives meaning to everyday life.
  • Bringing a pet to visit an older family member or friend just enhances a visit. Do it often!
  • Nursing homes are places to bring pets to visit too! Check with an activity coordinator for policies on visiting pets.

**Consider those individuals who do not enjoy all animals. For example, my dad loves horses and other farm animals but is not fond of dogs or cats. Be aware of their likes and dislikes.

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