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What Are the Benefits of Pet Visits & Pet Therapy?

WellAge - August 2 Blog

Animals can be seen throughout history, serving as loyal companions, and providing unconditional love and support to individuals during good and bad times. Spending time with these nonjudgmental companions adds feelings of safety and comfort to our lives.

Picture yourself in this scenario:

You are sitting at home, watching the news on the TV, and you are feeling upset and anxious..

Now, picture this same scenario, the difference is your dog is at your side, wagging his tail or your cat is purring on your lap. Whichever the case, you feel a sense of warmth and love that only an animal or pet can offer. You know that whatever happens or whatever you confess to this animal, he or she will show you the same affection.

Pets, of any kind, can make great additions to daily life. While we are still practicing social distancing among peers, animals and pets provide great companionship to help get through these difficult times.

At WellAge Senior Living, with communities throughout Colorado, we believe in exploring all avenues that promote wellness and well-being in individuals’ lives. Studies have shown that there are both mental and physical benefits of pet visits and pet therapy, and we have gathered some of these to show how implementing pets or animals into your life can influence you in a positive way.

What is Pet Therapy?

According to healthline, “the purpose of pet therapy is to help someone recover from or cope with a health problem or mental disorder.” During these interactions, individuals are able to spend time with an animal and participate in various activities.

“Medical practitioners, psychologists, social workers, reading specialists, occupational and physical therapists, health care professionals, and others in many different fields are tapping into this unique human-animal bond for its potential therapeutic value (animaltherapy.net).”

There are two main types of pet therapy:

  • Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)
  • Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA)

AAT is a more structured form of pet therapy that is incorporated into a rehabilitation or treatment plan, while AAA is more about casual encounters designed to provide comfort and recreational activities.

What is a Pet Visit?

WellAge Senior Living communities regularly host visits with furry friends - mostly dogs. A pet visit occurs when a pet owner brings their dog to our community and residents can pet the animal and share in the joy, companionship, tail wagging, and playful nature.

Planned pet visits are welcome and happen often to bring joy and companionship to a community.

The Benefits of Pet Therapy

Companionship

“Human-animal interaction may provide social support… In addition, [Animal-Assisted Activities] can contribute to reducing loneliness and improving quality of life, mood, and social interaction (Frontiers of Psychology).”

Anyone who lives with a pet knows the companionship that they offer. They listen without judgment and provide unconditional love and affection. Individuals who live alone are more prone to feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially during the current social climate of COVID-19. Animals and pets can help to combat these feelings. One of the benefits of pet therapy is that individuals can socialize with animals on a regular basis and experience the social contact that we all need.

Reduced Levels of Anxiety and Stress

According to research from Frontiers in Psychology, Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy have “been shown to reduce anxiety in [individuals] with Alzheimer’s disease, those hospitalized with heart failure, and [individuals living] in long-term care” communities.

The emotional support that animals provide allow individuals to better cope with the stresses in their lives.

Sense of Purpose and Responsibility

Taking care of a pet demands attention and responsibility. Individuals who care for an animal are rewarded with feelings of usefulness and a sense of purpose. When an individual feels needed, this can also lead to boosted levels of self-esteem.

Increased Mobility and Physical Activity

Naturally, spending time with an animal or pet requires at least some form of physical activity. Walking a dog, brushing a cat, or feeding an animal all use physical mobility. Taking care of a pet helps to keep an individual’s motor skills sharp and provides a good outlet for regular exercise.

Many of our WellAge Senior Living communities throughout Colorado are pet-friendly; we encourage individuals and guests to bring their pets with them should they decide to call us home. We know the value of being in the company of animals and the comfort that pets provide their human companions. We encourage you to contact us for more information on our services, amenities, and senior living communities.