There are many kinds of therapy on the market for seniors today and that are suitable for the home care environment. Speech therapy, drug therapy, physical therapy – just to name a few. With all of the recent advancements in medical science, there seems to be a new kind of therapy emerging every other day. However, pet therapy is one type of therapy that we don’t hear much about from the mainstream medical field.

Contrary to popular belief, pet therapy isn’t a service that is provided to our animal friends. Instead, it is the method of introducing animals to the elderly or disabled population in a therapeutic way. Studies have shown that interacting with animals on a regular basis provides many health benefits to the people having the interaction. Here are some of the benefits associated with pet therapy and how it works.

Emotionally

Interacting with a pet has been shown to work as a mood lifter. This can be a great asset for seniors to have when battling depression. The depressed person feeds off of the unconditional love that the animals provide and respond in kind with touching, talking, comforting, and communication.

Physically

Studies have shown that interaction with animals reduces blood pressure, heart rates, and stress levels. It has also been discovered that people who live with pets have longer life expectancies and lower incidences of depression than those who do not. Further, interacting with an animal can provide the physical contact and nurturing that many elderly people do not receive on a regular basis.

The kinds of pets used in pet therapy vary. Cats, birds, rabbits, horses, fish, and ferrets have all been used in the program, but dogs seem to be the animal that is most often introduced to clients receiving home care. The kind of animal really doesn’t matter. The important thing in pet therapy is the level of interaction that the animal is able to provide the seniors. For example, dogs, by nature, will be more physically active and more able to reciprocate the attention he receives than a fish might. Of course, the temperament and health certification of the animal must also be considered to ensure that the animal is safe to be around. Also, any allergies that an elderly person may have could disqualify them from being an ideal candidate for pet therapy. Home care providers should check with their clients’ medical provider before introducing them to any pets or animals.

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