One of the things that many people miss most as they age is the companionship of pets. Most people in nursing homes have had beloved pets at various times in their lives and they miss the constant companionship and unconditional love they provide.
Nursing homes can provide that missing companionship either through on-site or visiting therapy animals.
Although most therapy animals are dogs, cats and other animals can be equally therapeutic and comforting to residents. Children participating in the 4-H program have been known to delight residents by showing up with chicks, ducklings, bunnies, baby goats and even piglets! Listening to residents reminiscing about growing up on a farm while cuddling with the visiting animals is a tremendous benefit to both groups.
As in this story, animals seem to know just what we need and when we need it most and therapy animals have this ability to a finely-tuned degree. The more time they spend with people who need them, the more they seem almost human-like in their ability to understand what each patient needs from them and they work hard to not disappoint "their" patients.
Having an animal visit can help by lowering blood pressure, elevating the patient's mood, relieving stress and helping them feel important again. No matter their physical or mental state, or the state of their health, a four-legged visitor is always ready for a cuddle, a kiss or just to lie quietly with them. If you work in elder care, consider inviting animals into your facility. The benefits to both residents and staff are incalculable.
Contact us for questions if you are seeking a job working with the elderly.
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