A pet companion provides numerous health benefits to its owners, including decreased cholesterol levels and the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. They can also aid in the treatment of depression.
As a result, animals are increasingly being used for therapeutic purposes in senior living homes. Therapy animals are utilized to promote health and healing in seniors of all ages and health conditions, whether depressed, chronically ill, or disabled.
Pet therapy for elders, also known as Animal Assisted Therapy, is a method of interacting with elderly through animals for a variety of reasons in order to improve their quality of life. According to studies, spending fifteen minutes bonding with an animal causes hormonal changes in the brain. As the brain produces serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone), prolactin, and oxytocin, stress levels decrease. This is why therapy animals make excellent companions for elders, as they provide numerous health benefits.
Research has shown that pet owners are generally less likely to feel lonely, visit the doctor less often, take less medication, recover from illness faster, and cope better with stress. One study even found that spending just 15 minutes with an animal initiates hormonal changes in the brain, dropping stress levels and increasing serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone) levels.Pets provide emotional, physical, and mental advantages to individuals of all ages, but especially to seniors who are more vulnerable to loneliness and isolation.
Because they have a loving pet at home, many seniors already participate in pet therapy on a daily basis. In the United States, almost 65 percent of homes have at least one furry buddy.
Pet therapy can help with a variety of physical and mental health issues. While more research is needed in the sector, experts think the preliminary findings are encouraging.
The following are some of the most powerful pet therapy links and outcomes to date.
Increased self-esteem and confidence, greater social skills, reduced risk of depression, reduced levels of anxiety, reduced feelings of loneliness, and increased ability to be kind and caring are some of the emotional benefits of pet therapy for older people.
Increased exercise levels, increased mobility from caring for an animal, lowered blood pressure, reduced levels of depression, stress, and anxiety, and improved physical skills for more intensive programs such as horseback riding or swimming with dolphins are just a few of the physical benefits of pet therapy.
Seniors, particularly those suffering from dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment, benefit greatly from pet therapy. Pet therapy boosts mental stimulation, socialization, ability to plan for the animal’s care, sense of purpose and meaning, memory, and reduces negative dementia behaviors.
Animals have a profound effect on people, as anybody who has spent time with a loving dog or heard the purr of a cat knows. Even if seniors are unable to adequately care for a pet, having a pet friend can provide many health benefits. Animals that engage with elderly as part of pet therapy aid to improve their quality of life.
Pet therapy can take place in a variety of settings, including retirement communities, hospices, rehabilitation centers, and senior living facilities. Pet therapy animals include everything from domesticated cats and dogs to farm animals. Therapy dogs must be highly socialized and understand how to interact with elders with restricted mobility after completing a basic obedience course.
Types of pet therapy:
OWNERSHIP THERAPY: The elder actually owns the pet in ownership treatment. This is a fantastic alternative for active seniors who can adequately care for a pet. This includes being able to walk and exercise a pet, as well as receiving and paying for veterinarian treatment and grooming services.
THERAPY OF VISITATION: The most prevalent method of pet therapy is visitation therapy. Animals visit the senior in his or her home or at a senior living community in this sort of therapy.
THERAPY WITH ANIMALS: Animal-assisted therapy is a type of pet therapy that is intended for senior citizens who require extensive rehabilitation. As part of their rehabilitation, seniors are matched with extremely sensitive creatures such as dolphins or horses, which helps to enhance physical skills and confidence.
Depression and anxiety are relieved by pet therapy. While pet therapy can benefit people of all ages, doctors have shown that it is especially beneficial to seniors suffering from sadness and anxiety.
It also looks to be particularly useful for those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as well as those suffering from a mental condition or those admitted to the hospital with heart failure. Caring for a pet or socializing with animals can help seniors maintain their quality of life and navigate difficult life transitions, such as a move or the onset of an illness.
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are highly trained companions for people with mental illnesses. Companionship and support are provided by pets. Animal therapy can help seniors feel less lonely by providing support and comfort. They can also provide mental stimulation and significance.
Seniors might feel needed and engaged by petting, brushing, feeding, and chatting to their pets. Pets can also contribute to a sense of community by providing comfort and facilitating social connection with others. This has been discovered to be especially true for dog walkers.
Physical Activity is Boosted by Pets; while dogs and cats are the most prevalent therapy pets, certain types of animal-assisted therapy may include horses, livestock, or other creatures chosen by the senior. Due to the duty of walking a dog, dog owners are the most physically engaged in studies considering physical activity.
Seniors benefit physically, mentally, and emotionally from staying active and exercising regularly. It can give people a sense of purpose and improve their quality of life.
Music, a therapy that reaches out to seniors in particular
Music-centered activities can benefit even older persons with advanced dementia or cognitive impairments. Music therapy and other forms of musical stimulation have been shown to have profoundly favorable effects in studies. Certain genres of music can help you recall memories and boost your mood.
Perhaps a live performance, orchestra, or ballet would be of interest to the senior in your life. They might even want to learn to play an old instrument or pick up a new one. Consider enrolling a loved one in ballroom classes or other types of group dance instruction and gatherings if they enjoy dancing.
Music has many therapeutic benefits for seniors and sometimes helps more than medication. In documentaries like Alive Inside, we’ve seen how music can deeply affect older adults with cognitive issues.
This study showed that in stressful pre-surgery situations, patients who listened to music rather than taking anti-anxiety meds actually had less anxiety and lower cortisol (stress) levels.
Other studies Music can also benefit persons with memory problems like Alzheimer’s or dementia by reducing pain and blood pressure, improving memory, and engaging them. Music improves sleep, mood, and sadness, as well as having anti-seizure properties and boosting immune function.
These are all excellent reasons for including music in your senior’s daily routine. Additionally, music may make you feel happy and less worried!
For people of all ages, pleasing tunes play a significant role in their lives. The advantages are significantly larger for seniors.
Music’s seemingly magical capacity to aid memory is one of the most significant benefits for seniors. Music, in particular, can help seniors feel better by invoking strong memories and emotions.
Music has the ability to bring back memories for seniors with age-related memory issues—or even dementia. Furthermore, music can assist slow age-related cognitive loss by increasing the speed with which older adults process information. Seniors’ Music Therapy Activities
You don’t need to be a musician or a music therapist to help your loved one benefit from music’s holistic effects. While live music provides a more immersive and personalized experience for listeners, recorded music has its own merits. Snyder Cowan suggests the following activities for carers and their loved ones to do at home to bond over music.
Together, make music. If you or a loved one enjoys playing an instrument, don’t be afraid to break out the old six-string and strum a few chords. “Live music has its own set of benefits,” Snyder Cowan argues. You can also get low-cost smartphone apps that replicate musical instruments like the piano, trombone, percussion, and harmonica. These are excellent possibilities for making music with a senior that are low-noise and do not require cumbersome equipment.
Music can be used to transport you back in time, music and memory are inextricably linked. Play popular songs from a senior’s past to combine music therapy and remembrance therapy. For older persons with and without dementia, this method can help memories return. Play music that was popular in their twenties and thirties and urge them to sing along if they are able. With elderly individuals, recordings of the Lawrence Welk Show and big band music are highly popular.
Change your mood with music; there is no such thing as a healing genre of music. It’s all about personal preference, according to Snyder Cowan. Choose tunes that both you and your partner like listening to. Try to fit the songs with the emotion you want to encourage, keeping the principle of entrainment in mind. If a senior is agitated or upset, choose slower, more soothing music instead of fast, intense music. Many family caregivers swear by playing a senior’s favorite tunes to keep their spirits up and support them through unpleasant care activities (such bathing and administering meds).
Bring Your Musical Hobbies Inside. For example, just because your loved one can’t dress up and go to the opera like they used to doesn’t mean they have to miss out on their favorite arias. You can assist them in experiencing the opera by purchasing or downloading and playing some of their favorite performances. The same may be said about any genre of music that accompanied their favorite pastimes, such as dancing or driving around town in their beloved car.
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