Therapy Dogs for Elderly Adults
Therapy dogs can be used in a number of situations to help all types of people from those with visual impairments to individuals with physical disabilities. They can also help those who need emotional support and even people with certain serious medical conditions like seizures.
However, therapy dogs can also be a great asset to elderly adults as well. Whether seniors have their own personal therapy dog, or if they are living in a community that has therapy dogs, there has been a great deal of research done on what the presence of these dogs can do. Here are a few of the many ways in which therapy dogs can help seniors thrive.
- Help seniors maintain a routine.
- Provide companionship to lonely seniors.
- Help seniors with socialization and verbalization.
- Promote alertness and a more positive mood in seniors who otherwise struggled with this.
- Help to spark memories and encourage seniors to reminisce.
- Treat depression and depression-like symptoms.
- Give seniors something to look forward to.
- Help seniors with physical challenges such as opening doors.
- Provide visual stimulation to seniors with visual impairments.
- Promote decreased aggression and resistance among seniors.
- Help seniors who struggle with anxiety.
These are a few of the many reasons why more and more seniors are not only getting therapy dogs of their own, but why many senior housing facilities are also bringing in therapy dogs for their residents.
There are many reasons to consider adding a therapy dog to a loved one’s current situation. Dogs can be a source of mental, physical and emotional stimulation—seniors and their families just need to determine their individual need for a therapy dog and the senior’s ability to take care of that therapy dog.
Seniors who are unable to take care of a therapy dog on their own or who are unsure if they need a full-time therapy dog can consider working with a program that brings therapy dogs in for short sessions, once, or multiple-times a week. This is a great compromise for seniors who want the emotional and physical boost that interacting with a canine companion can offer. In fact, research shows that just 15 minutes of bonding with an animal can have a tremendous impact on any person’s emotional and mental responses.
If you have been considering a therapy dog for the senior in your life, there are many local organizations that can help pair seniors with dedicated, loyal, loving and highly-trained therapy dogs.