How Therapy Pets Can Brighten a Senior’s Day

There is no question that regular contact with animals is beneficial for humans. Studies show that animals provide many benefits for the body and mind. According to the CDC, having a pet can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and feelings of loneliness. Owning a pet also increases your opportunities to get outdoors, exercise and socialize. For this reason, animals are being used more and more in therapeutic settings. Some are even being given specialized training to be a therapeutic companions for individuals with certain disabilities. Animals are being used in care facilities, schools and nursing homes to help individuals with stress, anxiety and depression. If you or someone you know suffers from any of these issues, perhaps therapy pets can be of value.

What Are Therapy Pets?

There are a number of different therapeutic uses and benefits associated with pets. The benefit the animal provides is dependent on how the animal is used and the type of therapy. For example, there are three types of therapy for which an animal can be used.

  • Visitation therapy is where the pet visits locations such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools. The residents, patients or students receive the benefits of the interaction with out the burden of caring for a pet.
  • Ownership therapy involves actually owning the pet and being responsible for its daily needs. The benefits of this type of therapy can be immeasurable. They can provide companionship and emotional support. If the human in question has a physical disability, he or she might consider a service animal which is trained to assist with basic tasks as opposed to a therapy pet which is trained to be a patient and supportive friend. Also, those considering this sort of therapy should carefully evaluate their ability to care for the daily needs of a pet.
  • Animal-assisted therapy is usually a more intense, often physical, therapy in which very sensitive animals are paired with human partners who are undergoing rehabilitation.

A dog may be chosen as a therapy animal if he displays a calm, gentle or affectionate demeanor. A therapy dog is trained and may be certified in providing affection and comfort to seniors, people in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other such facilities. These are generally not the same as service dogs which can assist owners with daily essential tasks. Rather, these dogs provide emotional support. Sometimes, if the animal is owned by the patient in question, the animal’s daily care requirements can also provide the owner with a sense of purpose and help them to improve functionality. Dogs are a very popular therapy animal.