Many people find pets and pet ownership to be very beneficial to their overall health. However, the term “Pet Therapy” refers to animal therapy programs that have been in existence with many rehabilitation and social health organizations for a long time. “Pet Therapy” is kind of misleading, however, since at one time it referred to therapy for pets and not the other way around. The term pet-facilitated therapy or animal-facilitated therapy is a much better way of describing the actual beneficial usage of pets in both alternative and conventional treatment programs. Pet-facilitated therapy offers encouragement to many different facets of people such as those suffering from disabilities and even severe depression.
Pet-facilitated therapy is a very valuable asset to seniors due to the fact that most elderly people at some point begin to feel shut off from others as they age and their health begins to deteriorate more rapidly. Assisting a senior with adopting a pet can give them a reason to increase their range of motion, eat a more healthy diet and improve their overall quality of life. Pet therapy also has become a valuable asset in many nursing facilities, group homes, assisted living facilities and even in some cases hospitals or rehabilitation centers.
Pet-facilitated therapy can consist of most any breed of animal and many times the pet can be specifically chosen for the patient. Seniors often expect little from pets, but instead get much more than they bargained for. Pets can offer security, companionship and in some instances even simple conversation. Having been in nursing most of my life, I have seen patients over the years grow very attached to their pets and in some cases the pets that are made available to them through their therapy sessions.
Family members often see a vast improvement in the elderly from pet therapy and if they are able to own a pet, many elderly people adjust better as they age, lose loved ones and start to develop health symptoms both mentally and physically.
Pet-facilitated therapy has shown to improve cardiac function such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Pets also have shown to reduce stress which can be a significant risk factor for anyone suffering from coronary disease. Pet-facilitated therapy also significantly increases the life expectancy of seniors. Pet therapy has also shown to be very beneficial in many aspects including mental therapies such as increasing cognitive function, as well as increasing social activity for anyone suffering from chronic depressive disorders. Pet therapy is wonderful for any age group and any medical condition or disorder, however seniors and children with disabilities seem to benefit more than most from pet-facilitated.
References for this article include: www.wholefamily.com/about60plus/caregiving/pet_therapy.html