Pet Therapy & Aging

Many seniors in today’s fast paced society often find themselves feeling left behind and lonely. Especially those dealing with an illness or diagnoses that may leave them home bound. Depression can sometimes set in as a result of these feelings of seclusion, especially in individuals that once led generally active lifestyles.

Researchers today are looking towards a new type of therapy and it isn’t talk, physical or occupational. Pet therapy has been shown to improve the moods of seniors and on occasion even the behaviors of those affected with a disease like Alzheimer/dementia.

The introduction of a pet into your loved one’s home can develop a new sense of purpose where one might have been lacking before. Consider Janice, an 82 year old widow residing alone. She’s lived in the same home for the last 32 years, where as a busy homemaker/wife she raised four children whom are all now adults successfully launched into their professional careers each raising children of their own. Now Janice’s address of residence hasn’t changed for quite some time but every thing else about her situation has. Her husband has passed, the kids are all busy with their individual lives and most of the friends she had in the area have either moved or passed away and she no longer drives. While she once used to fill her day caring for the needs of every one else she now finds nothing but time on her hands and no one to spend it on. She feels purposeless and lost at times. Sure, she cannot cook a meal as quick as she used to and may move a little bit slower but it still does not fill her day with what little she has to do to care for herself. Her primary caregiver and daughter Debra visits with her mom at least twice a week and assists her with all her errands and shopping but still Janice’s dance card is pretty empty. Debra would like to do more with mom but her own three teenage children and job require so much of her time. One day a neighbor of Debra’s approached her about adopting her adult cat. The neighbor was moving and could not take the animal with her. She was low maintenance, litter trained, and shed very little. Debra had just seen a story on the news about the elderly and pet therapy. She introduced the idea of the animal to Janice and the two have been inseparable since the first day. Janice’s new companion Coco has brought a new sense of purpose to her day. She now has someone to care for again. Debra believes it has allowed her mom to retain her independence in her own home even longer. Her mood has improved greatly and with it her quality of life.

While beneficial, pet ownership may not be for everyone. It is important to consider whether or not the individual can independently care for the pet. Different pets require different levels of care. The future of the pet should also be considered, is this an environment that will last the life time of the animal or can backup plan arrangements be made to care for the pet in the instance the individual is no longer able to? Is it within the individual’s budget to afford the pet and cost of care for the pet?

For those individuals with pets , VIP America can assist with the care of that animal. Part of helping your loved one remain in their home and avoiding/delaying a skilled nursing facility are assisting in activities of daily living which may be care for a furry or winged companion! To inquire about home health care services in Stuart, and surrounding areas, don't hesitate to call us.