The benefits of canine and feline therapy programs for seniors

Dogs and cats are indeed reliable companions. Cats take a long time to convince, as cat owners know, but once you have their love, you have it forever, and dogs, well… you show dog love once, you have best friend for life, and to us they’re indeed mankind’s best friend – both cats and dogs. It turns out, however, that there are some major benefits for seniors when it comes to our little furry friends.

When treated well and trained properly, any dog, regardless of breed, is indeed beneficial to your health. as we have covered quite often. It turns out, however, that for older people, having dogs and even cats is a huge benefit, and can simply help avoid serious psychological disorders. problems which often come with age.

First and foremost, having a dog or cat helps the aging adult develop, or rather maintain, a routine. The dogs and kittens need to eat and of course need exercise and play, and for the adult, remembering to provide these things to the animal is key to preventing cognitive regression.

Seniors who have dogs and cats in their lives benefit from these animals in many ways

However, the factor that doctors often (not all) overlook is the emotional attachment a dog or cat can provide to an aging adult. Perhaps the older person’s children are far away, or the person in question has no children…having a pet that shows them love is great indeed.

But what if the aging senior cannot care for a dog or a cat? Well, there are some great programs in place where volunteers with trained animals visit the elderly, and yes, they bring their little furry buddies, with huge benefits down the line.

In Cambridge, Ontario, the St. John Ambulance program was created for just that reason. It was launched in 1992 in Peterborough, Ontario, and has been in the aforementioned Cambridge for 25 years. According to a piece at kitchner.citynews.cathe pandemic has prompted even more dogs to be trained for this exact purpose.

Heather Leong, who is the Therapy Dog Coordinator for St. John Ambulance in Cambridge, said the following:

“I think everyone talks about the non-judgmental aspect of the dog. They really don’t care about your situation and will come and be with you and be physically next to you…

Even just the warmth of their fur, you know how soft they are, and it’s just a creature watching you and paying 100% attention to you while you interact with it, I could go on and on.

via City News (link above)

Therapeutic Paws of Canada is also an organization that has been doing similar work for 20 years and counting. They have over 500 volunteers who visit the elderly and those in need of such companionship with their lovely and loving, also trained pets.

An article published on psychology today, suggests that the above is indeed beneficial for older people, but comes with challenges. One of the biggest issues to address is seniors’ residences that don’t allow pets on the premises.

But Professor Marie-José Enders-Sleggers and Dr Karin Hediger suggest that the benefits outweigh the problems, and there are ways around these limitations specified above. About the benefits, they said the following:

“The ability to interact with animals must be preserved throughout life for those who enjoy interacting with animals, whether through pet ownership or other forms of human-animal interaction. “

via Psychology Today (link above)

In the end, a bunch of good people and a few furry companions who do a great job helping the elderly…. A story of well-being if there ever was one. These days, the headlines aren’t always so accurate, I’m afraid. Until next time, dear readers.