Having the companionship of a pet can be extremely beneficial and bring engagement and purpose to the lives of people of all ages. This is especially true for seniors. Spending time with pets is an effective way to combat cases of isolation and loneliness while reducing stress, bringing comfort, and promoting health and wellness. 

Keep reading to learn more about pet therapy and what it offers. 

Pet Therapy Explained 

If you have ever spent time with a cat or dog, you know how therapeutic just being around them can be. Having a pet companion offers several health benefits for seniors, even if they cannot care for it on their own. Thanks to pet therapy animals, seniors can now benefit from this without having the responsibility of the pet. 

How Pet Therapy Benefits Seniors  

Some of the specific benefits offered by pet therapy for seniors are found below. 

Emotional Benefits 

One of the biggest ways that therapy pets can benefit seniors is emotional. Some of the emotional benefits include:

  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Reduced possibility of depression
  • Increased ability to show caring and gentleness
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness
  • Reduced anxiety 

These emotional benefits help seniors remain happy and feel content. This is true for all seniors, even those who experience mental decline. 

Physical Benefits

The physical benefits offered by pet therapy differ based on the type of therapy practiced. While this is true, some of the biggest benefits include:

  • Reduced anxiety, stress, and depression levels
  • Increased exercise and physical activity
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased mobility while caring for the animal
  • Improved physical skills

Usually, improved physical skills are only seen when the senior goes to the animal, like riding horses or swimming with dolphins. 

Mental Benefits 

Along with emotional and physical benefits, pet therapy offers several mental benefits for seniors. This is particularly the case for seniors who have dementia or another type of cognitive impairment. 

Some of the top mental benefits offered by pet therapy for seniors include:

  • Calming negative actions related to dementia
  • Improved mental stimulation
  • Memory stimulation
  • Improved sense of meaning and purpose
  • Strengthened ability to plan for the pet’s care
  • Increased socialization 

Implementing Pet Therapy 

Pet therapy can occur in many settings, including senior homes, rehabilitation centers, hospices, and retirement communities. The animals used for pet therapy range from dogs, cats, farm animals, and more. These are usually therapy trained, go through obedience courses, and are well socialized. They also have experience interacting with seniors who have limited mobility. 

Is Pet Therapy Right for Your Senior Loved One?

While pet therapy may not be right for all seniors, it does have its perks and provides an array of benefits for others. It’s a good idea to learn what these perks are to determine if your senior would enjoy it. Being informed and knowing what this offers is the best way to ensure that you make the right decision for your senior loved one.