If you've ever had a bad day at work, or a tragedy strike your family, you probably truly understand the comfort of your family pet. Cats and dogs are intuitive creatures, and when you are feeling upset they are often quick to give you a snuggle, a lick, and a wagging tail to try and make things better.
The elderly sometimes don't have the ability to care for pets, leaving them without this classic comfort many of us turn to. In response to this problem, pet therapy has come around as a possible way to give those in need of home care a way to interact with pets in a safe manner.
During a pet therapy session, an animal specifically trained for the purpose is allowed to interact with the patient along side its handler. Dogs and cats are the most common types of animals to be used for this purpose, but horses, birds, and many other species have also been used.
How pet therapy impacts health
Studies have shown there are a great number of benefits to human health using pet therapy. Just the simple act of petting a friendly dog can reduce stress, improve mental health, and even improve the psychological health of the mental impaired.
Pet therapy does not have to be from a furry animal in order to be beneficial. Some studies measuring the health benefits used a bird exclusively, and still found positive benefits.
Mental health isn't the only area pet therapy has been proven to help in. Physical benefits include:
- Lowering blood pressure
- More physical activity
- Lower risk of death from cardiovascular issues
Whether you are hoping for physical or mental health benefits out of therapy, there is an abundant amount of both.
Pet therapy also comes with a more indirect benefit. While pet therapy is very beneficial to the elderly, pet ownership can be problematic. Owning a pet can cost thousands of dollars if the pet is unlucky in terms of medical needs, and pets can sometimes make older and unstable people fall.
As cognitive function declines, an elderly person may be less able to give the pet the attention and care that is required of it, and there's also a risk of them accidentally injuring the animal.
This can be hard for animal loving patients, but pet therapy provides an excellent middle ground. Through the visitation of furry, scaly, or feathered friends, they can still enjoy the benefits of animal companionship without the risks. Therapy animals are highly trained, and are unlikely to jump on or misbehave in a way that injures patients.
If you know someone who needs home care, or perhaps choosing a home care situation for yourself, consider one that has an animal therapy program. There are a number of benefits, and very few drawbacks to bringing the warmth and companionship of a therapy animal into the lives of those who need them.
At Homewatch CareGivers of Charlotte, NC, our own Delilah has brought warmth and love to the lives of many. To find out more about our pet therapy program, reach out to us today.