Reduce Unease in Seniors: Try Pet Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety, especially for seniors, is an awful thing to experience and often, it feels as though there is no way around it. The good news is that there are some ways to manage, like pet therapy for the elderly. Pets may not be able to talk, and they may not know what anxiety is, but they are far more intuitive than people think. For elderly people with anxiety, pets can do wonders.

Pet Therapy for Seniors

If you’ve ever felt that rumble of a kitty’s purr or felt the soft, soft chin of a puppy, you know how relaxing being around a pet can be. A furry companion can offer many benefits for the elderly, like preventing stroke and lowering cholesterol, and pet therapy for the elderly can help to reduce depression.

For these and many other reasons, pets are being used more and more for therapeutic purposes with senior citizens. The pets are used to encourage better health and reduce anxiety, while offering unwavering love and companionship.

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an infographic by http://caringpeopleinc.com/

 

Big Benefits to Be Had with Pet Therapy for the Elderly

For those seniors who are mobile, having a dog to walk provides them with necessary physical exercise which in turn encourages better mobility and an overall healthier lifestyle. The responsibility of grooming and feeding a furry companion also increases an elderly person’s physical motor skills and keeps them active. As we know, exercise, and keeping active, helps to reduce anxiety and depression significantly. Furthermore, having something soft and loving to touch has been shown to lead to reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and a normalized heart rate.

Aging along with waning health can be a scary and upsetting time for elderly people. Caring for a pet helps to increase an older adult’s self-esteem and self-confidence, while helping them to feel responsible, useful, and needed. What’s more, a pet provides great emotional stability in stressful and confusing times, further reducing a senior’s anxiety.

For our senior loved ones who have dementia, Alzheimer’s, and heart conditions, pets provide a soothing presence. It has been reported that elderly adults who have heart conditions and own pets tend to outlive seniors who don’t have the love and company of a four-legged friend.

There’s another great benefit of pet therapy for seniors – socialization. Animals have shown to help improve an elderly person’s socialization since pets listen without judging and give impartial affection. They are great listeners for those seniors who are more comfortable talking to their pets about some things instead of telling friends and family.

How Older Adults Can Benefit from Pet Therapy for Anxiety

1.       A Pet Is Always Ready for a Cuddle

Contact with a pet can do wonders to ease anxiety. In fact, pet therapy in nursing homes is known to help seniors feels less alone. According to experts, stroking and cuddling a pet is calming, even for people who don’t suffer from anxiety.

2.       A Pet Will Listen Without Judgment

Sometimes, we just want to talk without getting advice. Not everybody really understands anxiety and too many people try to “fix” others. Even people with the best of intentions think that a sound piece of advice will be enough to cure their loved one of their fears. But, anxiety can run deeper than that. Pet therapy for seniors works well as a pet won’t try to fix their owner. You can sit with your pet for hours on end, just talking, knowing that he or she won’t try to solve your problems. A pet will simply love you and sometimes, it’s all we need.

3.       Pets Offer Distraction

Anxiety often starts as a small feeling that escalates quickly and becomes all-consuming. With a pet around, you can focus on him. When you focus on looking after your pet, it takes your mind of your worries. Taking care of a pet’s needs can create a wonderful feeling of mastery when everything else seems overwhelming and out of control.

4.       Pets Are Constant Companions

When you have anxiety, being alone can be nerve-racking. Even being in a nursing home, or having to accept a new caregiver in your own home, can be daunting and every noise, light flicker or change of routine can set you on edge. Pet therapy in nursing homes and for independent seniors makes things a little easier and you will feel like there is always someone around for you.

5.       Playing with a Pet Helps to Clear the Mind

Life is stressful. There are so many anxiety-inducing triggers out there. There are some moments when you take your dog for a walk or have fun playing with a piece of string with your cat that can help to clear your mind and just concentrate on enjoying time with your furry friend without feeling like you have to rely on your family to provide companionship.

6.       Your Pet Will Always Love You

Sometimes, it can feel like no one has much time for you, especially when you are a senior. But, when you have a pet running to you or jumping on to your lap for a stroke, you know for sure that as long as you have your pet, there will always be someone on your side.

Pet therapy for the elderly can help improve their overall well-being and give them a new lease on life. Because of the many health benefits that animal therapy provides, especially for anxiety, more caregivers, and senior programs are beginning to include pet therapy for anxiety in their care programs.

Pet therapy for anxiety has proven a successful way to help seniors feel loved, relaxed, and ensure they have a faithful companion.

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