When we talk about older people, as we do when we talk about children, we feel a certain responsibility to always meet in the best way possible and enjoy the days fully.
According to various experts, the presence of an animal has extremely positive effects on people. Increases endorphins, antioxidants and hormones, which protect neurons. In many countries, nursing homes have companion animals or work with therapy animals from non-governmental organizations.
You have certainly wondered what pet animals do to older people. Can animals really help these people in the most difficult times without causing extra concern? In this article from PeritoAnimal, we will talk about animal therapy for the elderly , what are the different therapies and their repercussions on society.
What types of animal therapies are most used?
Animal Assisted Therapies (TAA) are activities designed to improve a patient’s social, emotional and cognitive aspect . 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 calm and decrease anxiety. They have a much simpler communication than humans, and for this reason the relationship between patient and animal is less complex than it would be between two humans. Thus, the relationship between the two is less stressful and therefore brings very positive results in 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. Most commonly dogs, cats and horses are 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 receiving the therapy as well as the type of treatment concerned. These are the most common therapies:
- Depression Therapy
- Active communication
- Company and affection
- Games and fun
- Mental stimulation
- Physical activity
- Feeling of usefulness
Benefits of living with animals for the elderly
There are many benefits of animal therapy for the elderly and are especially suitable for people living in homes or alone.
For many reasons, a pet may be the help needed to increase the self-esteem and sense of usefulness that many people lose as they age. These are some of the benefits of animals for seniors:
- They recover the feeling of usefulness.
- They improve the functioning of the immune system by reducing the risks of becoming ill or contracting allergies.
- Increase the degree of daily activity.
- Reduce stress.
- Decreases the risk of depressions due to loneliness.
- Lowers blood pressure and heart problems.
- Facilitates communication with others and helps in reintegration into society.
Because of the many benefits that a pet brings, many families choose to adopt animals for the elderly after the therapy is completed. However, it is crucial to remember that animals often exceed the life expectancy of tutors. For this reason, before making the adoption decision, it must be ensured that someone will take care of the animal in case of death or hospitalization in a hospital.
More than pets
The animals therapies also aportam physical benefits and delay some of the typical signs of aging. The simple gesture of petting an animal causes a feeling of well-being and relaxation, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. We must not forget that at this stage of life change is very rapid. After retirement and family changes, many older people are discouraged by not finding new life projects . Incorporating an animal into these people’s homes can eliminate some “emotional emptiness” and raise self-esteem.
The exercises proposed by therapists help to improve people’s mobility and hence 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 about physical problems. Regular talk about the physical problems and illnesses they suffer from is replaced by pet adventures, adventures that live together, games they play, and naps that sleep together. Walking the dog down the street promotes social interaction with others, strengthens bonds 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 considerably reduces the characteristic mutism of this disease, since they talk to the animal telling memories and memories. These therapies help to improve psychomotor skills, help to relax and consequently delay the deterioration of cognitive abilities.