Combatting Loneliness > Pet Therapy

Combatting loneliness > Pet Therapy

Let’s face it, keeping a pet has a habit of bringing out the best in people. You may have heard of pet therapy – known otherwise as animal-assisted therapy, ownership therapy, nurture dogs or happy pets, as interventions said to improve health for the most vulnerable in later years. But if you haven’t, please read on. Pet therapy traditionally takes place in nursing and care homes but does occur elsewhere. It won’t take much for one of these cute animals to lighten up a place and bring a smile to everyone. On occasions even some of the most depressed, solitary and sedentary residents have been observed to show distinct improvements during the time a particular pet has been present. 

Loneliness does have negative effects on emotional wellbeing and mental health which eventually leads to physical implications. As for older people, if left on their own most of the time, some are at risk of withdrawing completely from social interaction. Pets offer companionship and stimulation for people feeling isolated by the outside world. Such a relationship can be indeed precious especially in situations when someone has lost their partner or their family has moved away. 

In the right circumstances, dogs are said to offer friendship unconditionally in some cases so much more than companionship alone. When some of the more mobile patients are able to take them out for walks and groom them, they feel responsible for the pet for a time with a set task. However, Just sitting with the pets for a group of adults has helped lift the mood bringing them joy. Some pets want to be playful and enjoy games with the older adults who feel encouraged to join in. Those with anxiety problems have described feeling more calm. From observation some residents who seemed withdrawn, displayed a complete change in behaviour when the animals were around. A few became more outgoing from interacting with the pets, but after several sessions with the animals, were more prepared to chat with their peers and swap stories.

Apart from dogs other animals are firm favourites among older folk including farm yard animals which can be befriended too. There are lots of options as to the whereabouts pet therapy happens taken from home visits and visiting community farms which include a variety of animals to spend time with. All of the animals should be suitably trained and friendly. It is important to note that Dementia suffers can get agitated from sudden changes so consider how pet therapy is introduced or whether it is suitable for a particular person.

Some Interesting Quotes about Pet Therapy:

“The magic that happens in these interactions is difficult to quantify and prove.” Mary Craig, CEO of the Pet Partners.

“one’s pet will always remain a faithful, intimate, non-competitive friend, regardless of the good or ill-fortune life brings us.” Dr. Boris Levinson.

“It is the intuitive power of animals that can help us heal hurts, lessen stress, feel needed, and express our caring side.” Marty Becker, DVM Resident veterinarian on Good Morning America 

Pets are a good idea for someone you might know. Try some of these local websites which provide services linked with pet therapy:

Dedham Therapy Farm

Dogs for Development CIC

Club K9