Therapy for the elderly with animals
When we talk about old people, as we do when we talk about children, we feel a certain responsibility to always find ourselves in the best possible way and to enjoy the days fully.
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According to several experts, the presence of an animal has extremely positive effects on people. It increases the endorphins, antioxidants and hormones, which protect the neurons. In many countries, nursing homes have pet animals or work with non-governmental organization therapy animals.
You’ve certainly wondered about what pets do to older people. Can animals actually help these people in the most difficult times without extra worry? In this article by YourCatCareguide, we are going to talk about animal therapy for the elderly , the different therapies and their repercussions in society.
What types of animal therapies are most used?
Animal assisted therapies (AAT) are activities designed to improve a patient’s social, emotional and cognitive aspects . The purpose of this contact between man and animal is to help the person receiving treatment or therapy.
It has been scientifically proven that animals help to calm and lessen anxiety. They have much simpler communication than humans, and for that reason the relationship between the patient and the animals is less complex than it would be between two humans. In this way, the relationship between the two is less stressful and therefore brings very positive results in the treatment.
Can any animal perform therapy?
Not all animals can be good therapists. Generally, animals are prepared and trained have a character sociable, calm and positive , indispensable features for contact with people who are receiving treatment, be of any kind. Puppies, cats and horses are most commonly used, but many other animals can be excellent therapists, including those considered “farm animals.”
What activities can a therapy animal perform?
Activities may vary depending on the type of animal performing the therapy, as well as the type of treatment involved. These are the most common therapies:
- Therapy for depression
- Active communication
- Company and affection
- Games and Fun
- Mental stimulation
- Physical activity
- Feeling of utility
Benefits of living with animals for the elderly
There are many benefits of animal therapies for the elderly and are especially suitable for people living in homes or alone.
For a variety of reasons, a pet can be the help needed to boost self-esteem and the sense of usefulness that many people lose as they age. Here are some of the benefits of animals for the elderly:
- They regain the sense of usefulness.
- They improve the functioning of the immune system by reducing the risks of getting sick or contracting allergies.
- They increase the degree of daily activity.
- Reduce stress.
- They decrease the risk of depression due to loneliness.
- It lowers blood pressure and heart problems.
- Facilitates communication with others and helps in reintegration into society.
Because of the many benefits a pet brings, many families choose to adopt animals that are indicated for the elderly after the therapy is completed. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that animals often outweigh the life expectancy of tutors. For this reason, before taking the adoption decision, it is necessary to ensure that someone will take care of the animal in case of death or hospital stay.
More than pets
The animals therapies also aportam physical benefits and delay some of the typical signs of aging. The simple gesture of caressing an animal causes a feeling of well-being and relaxation, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure. We must not forget that, at this stage of life, the changes are very rapid. After retirement and family changes, many older people become discouraged because they do not find new life projects . The incorporation of an animal in the home of these people can eliminate some “emotional void” and raise self-esteem.
The exercises proposed by therapists help to improve the mobility of people and, consequently, their health. The play with the pet is an essential activity to improve the link between the elderly and other family members and / or their society. Animals are an excellent distraction that make them forget physical problems. Regular conversations about the physical problems and illnesses they suffer are replaced by the peripécias of the pet, the adventures they live together, the games they play and the naps that sleep together. Strolling with the dog on the street promotes social interaction with others, strengthening ties with people of various ages, such as children and teenagers who want to play with the animal.
In Alzheimer’s patients , animal therapies are an excellent booster for treatments. It diminishes considerably the mutism characteristic of this disease, since they talk with the animal counting memories and memories. These therapies help to improve psychomotricity, help relax and consequently delay the deterioration of cognitive abilities.