It’s no secret that the love bond between an animal and a human is one of the strongest bonds in the world, and that is demonstrated every day in millions of homes. It is also the basis for what is becoming a powerful, everyday mode of therapy in many long-term healthcare facilities in the US.
Dogs naturally have a calming and therapeutic effect. Think of all the times you’re having a bad day, and your mood changes once your dog comes around. You may snuggle up with him to calm yourself or vent your problems to them, and the day’s stress momentarily goes away. For elders, they can help a patient cope with the emotional issues related to their illness. Animals also offer physical contact with another living creature, something that is often missing in an elder’s life.
Therapeutic Visitation Dogs are the most popular and common type of therapy dogs provided by nursing homes. Typically, they are household pets whose owners take the time to visit nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, or hospitals. For some patients, a visit from a dog can help motivate them in their therapy or treatment for the day.
Dr. Michael McCullough, a Portland, Oregon psychiatrist specializing in why pets excel as therapeutic agents, states, “Touch is one of our primary needs when we’re born and one of our last needs to go.” In long-term facilities, residents often need more time to feel that they are needed. The inclusion of pets, even if only briefly, allows them to be nurturers again. It also allows them to pet the furry visitors facilitating physical movement and social behaviors they may lack.
The elderly can also benefit from pets in the following ways:
- Boosting overall morale
- Providing a source of touch and affection
- Stimulating exercise and activity
- Encouraging communication
- Reminding them of their own pets
- Lowering stress levels
Dogs can have a profound effect on nursing home residents that can’t be quantified scientifically. Still, there is no mistaking the benefits they provide just by looking at the faces of the patients when a dog comes into their presence. At Delaware Court, we periodically have dog visitors, and they never cease to put a smile on our residents’ faces. Not just the patients either. The staff also loves it when they come in! Located in Delaware, Ohio, our healthcare center works tirelessly to provide our residents with outstanding rehabilitation services daily.