For older adults, life can become quieter and lonely as the years go by. One way to combat this life change is by owning a pet. The health benefits of owning a pet for seniors far outweigh the work that goes into owning one.Our furry, feathery, or even scaly family members can provide a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. The bond between seniors and their pets goes far beyond mere companionship. Here are some of the top health benefits of owning a pet for seniorsReduces Loneliness And IsolationAs they get older, many seniors experience feelings of social isolation and loneliness. This can lead to depression and other significant health problems. Having a pet, whether its a dog, cat, or even a bird, provides companionship and helps to reduce these feelings of isolation. Pets are loyal and loving, offering unconditional affection that can significantly improve your mental and emotional well-being.Increases Physical ActivityOne of the biggest benefits of owning a pet, particularly an active dog, is that it forces you to be physical. Dogs need to be walked, which in turn encourages regular physical activity on your part. Seniors with dogs are more likely to go for daily walks or play with them in the yard. Even this little bit of physical activity helps maintain mobility, joint flexibility, and cardiovascular health. In addition, physical activity of any kind leads to a stronger immune system and a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.Lowers Stress And AnxietySimply looking at a picture of a little puppy or kitten is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Studies show that petting a dog or cat can trigger the release of the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. It also increases the feel good hormone dopamine while decreasing the level of the stress hormone cortisol. This fluctuation helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, a pets rhythmic, soothing presence can help lower blood pressure, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.Boosts Mental AlertnessInteracting with pets can stimulate mental alertness and cognitive function. While training your pet and teaching them tricks helps to boost their mental capacity, it also helps to maintain your mental acuity. This mental stimulation can delay the onset of cognitive decline and reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimers disease.Fosters A Sense Of PurposeMost of us work hard and look forward to the day we can finally hang up our work boots and retire. However, when that day finally comes, many seniors often experience a diminished sense of purpose. Owning a pet can give you back a sense of responsibility and purpose. Caring for a pet requires routine tasks like feeding, grooming, and exercise, providing structure to your days and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.Enhances Social ConnectionsA study has shown pet owners are more apt to meet their neighbors than non-pet owners. Pets make great icebreakers for seniors when they are out on walks or at pet-friendly facilities. This can give you an opportunity to connect with others and strike up a conversation.Reduces The Risk Of Allergies And AsthmaAlthough it sounds like it would be the opposite, having a pet has been found to reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma the older we get. This can be an added health benefit for seniors who have had pets throughout their lives.Get Your Purrfect CompanionOwning a pet can do wonders for your health and well-being. These little bundles of joy enrich seniors lives in ways that extend far beyond companionship. The emotional, physical, and mental health benefits of having a pet cannot be argued or overlooked. Seniors who share their lives with a furry friend often experience reduced stress, increased physical activity, enhanced emotional well-being, and a greater sense of purpose. This article was submitted by VIPCare. For more information visit the website: getvipcare.com
Weve all heard of the common forms of therapy, including physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy for behavioral and mental health. But did you know there are many other therapeutic approaches available for seniors to engage in to improve their physical and mental health?From art and music to gardening and pets, many varieties of therapy exist that take a more holistic approach to seniors health and wellness. These alternatives can be a supplement to standard therapies, or they can be done as a standalone practice. Either way, alternative therapies can be a powerful tool for enriching the lives of seniors. Lets explore five of the best alternative therapies for seniors in Florida.1. Art TherapyArt therapy for seniors is based on the notion that being artistic and creative helps promote healing, self-expression, and mental well-being. Art therapy is led by trained experts in both art and psychology. The focus of this type of therapy is not on artistic abilities or final products, but instead on the process of being creative and expressing oneself.Some techniques commonly used in art therapy include painting, drawing, doodling, coloring, sculpting, and photography.Art therapy is intended for people of all ages and abilities. It is often utilized in settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, senior centers, assisted living, and memory care communities. Art therapy is highly beneficial for seniors as it helps keep memory sharp, reduces stress, promotes communication and self-expression, improves mood, and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. So channel your inner Picasso and start reaping the many benefits of art therapy!2. Music TherapyMusic therapy for seniors is similar to art therapy, but it instead uses the power of music to enhance mental wellness and emotional health. It is commonly used for seniors to encourage socialization, reduce stress, and promote self-expression. Music therapy utilizes four main techniques: receptive, re-creation, improvisation, and composition/songwriting. During receptive music therapy, the therapist plays music and in response, the senior is free to express themselves through dancing, writing, or with words. Re-creation music therapy involves various musical activities such as singing songs, playing instruments, and doing rhythmic exercises. Improvisation therapy involves the senior creating simple music with their voice, body percussion, or instruments. Finally, during composition/songwriting therapy, the senior is able to create their own music or lyrics.All of these techniques help seniors express their emotions, feel a sense of purpose and achievement, improve their cognitive functioning, feel joy and nostalgia, and foster social interaction and community involvement. After all, who doesnt love a good jam session?3. Pet TherapyOne of the most beloved forms of alternative therapy is pet therapy. This type of therapeutic intervention uses animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and more to improve seniors physical and mental health.Animals involved in pet therapy are thoroughly trained to be well-socialized and interact with seniors, especially those who may have limited mobility.The three main types of pet therapy are ownership therapy, visitation therapy, and animal assisted therapy (AAT). With ownership therapy, the senior actually owns the pet. This option is best for seniors who are active, mobile, and able to successfully care for a pet. Visitation therapy, the most common type of pet therapy, involves animals coming to visit seniors, either in their homes or senior living communities. Visitation therapy is what most people picture when they think of pet therapy.Finally, animal assisted therapy is an intensive form of therapy for seniors who need extreme rehabilitation. Oftentimes this type of therapy involves highly sensitive animals like horses and dolphins to improve and practice physical skills. Pet therapy has been proven to be extremely beneficial for seniors. Pet therapy requires seniors to increase their mobility and physical activity by walking or playing with the pet. It also promotes mental activity, increases communication, reduces loneliness, encourages affection, decreases stress, and lowers blood pressure. Not to mention, therapy pets bring love and joy to everyone they meet.The power of pets is incredible!4. Aquatic TherapyAquatic therapy, also known as hydrotherapy or aquatherapy, is a technique that has been used for thousands of years, including for seniors. It involves the senior performing certain physical stretches and exercises in temperature-controlled water for physical rehabilitation, relaxation, and fitness. The goal of aquatic therapy for seniors is muscle relaxation, increased strength, improved joint motion, and pain reduction. Aquatic therapy is especially beneficial for seniors, as it puts less pressure on joints, reduces inflammation, and provides a safer environment to practice balance, mobility, and strength exercises. Studies have shown that water-based exercises can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health, and can also help people improve their exercise habits.Some techniques used in aquatic therapy include underwater walking and stair training, strength training with water weights, stretching with flotation belts, and more. Aquatic therapy can be done in both indoor and outdoor pools. Seniors in Florida have the unique advantage of having access to outdoor pools year-round, making aquatic therapy more accessible. 5. Horticultural TherapyHorticultural therapy, sometimes known as gardening therapy, is the use of gardening, plants, and plant-based activities for the purpose of healing and rehabilitation. This practice has been used for thousands of years to improve peoples physical, mental, and cognitive health, and has gotten more popular and widely recognized in more recent years.Horticultural therapy is often used with seniors as it is accessible for those with limited mobility. Research has shown that working with plants promotes relaxation, heightens senses, improves physical health, and increases cognitive awareness. For seniors in particular, gardening is also an opportunity to socialize with others, work toward a common goal, feel a sense of purpose, increase self-esteem, be engaged in the community, decrease stress, and spend time outdoors. Some activities used in horticultural therapy include tending to gardens, sowing seeds, drying herbs, harvesting produce, potting plants, creating floral arrangements, and many more.Like with aquatic therapy, Florida seniors are at an advantage by having nice weather year-round, allowing them to be outside and work in gardens no matter the season. So bring your green thumb and get gardening!How to find alternative therapy for seniorsAs you can see, there are many options available for Florida seniors to engage in alternative therapies to improve their health and wellness. But how can you find these opportunities?One of the best ways to access alternative therapies is through assisted living communities. These communities often have regular therapists on rotation who specialize in alternative approaches such as pet therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and more. If you are interested in finding a senior living community in Florida that offers a specific type of therapy, reach out to Florida Senior Consulting!Our expert senior advisors will find you a community that meets all your needs and interests, whether it be regular pet therapy, water aerobics classes, gardening clubs, art classes, or other offerings!Best of all, we offer these services at no cost to you or your family.So give us a call at (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com to get started finding the perfect community for you. Senior living on your terms. The choice should be yours.
In senior living communities, the employees strive daily to bring a bit of joy back to someones life. Not many people acknowledge the impact that having a pet can have on you until you can no longer have one. Many also do not know the outstanding opportunities offered to communities nationwide to allow seniors and pets to interact further and the benefits this can have on both parties.Betsy is one of the seniors with these benefits in North Naples, FL. Each month, caregivers witness the wide grin that spreads across Betsys face when bunnies visit the assisted living community where she resides. She spends the hour holding and petting the bunnies, talking to them while continuously smiling. They are so sweet. I love these bunnies, Betsy says with one in her lap.Health organizations worldwide have long documented the benefits of pets for seniors. Having a pet therapy team visit or pets residing within a senior community can combat loneliness and isolation while also bringing comfort and companionship to the residents. These animals can also reduce stress while promoting overall health and wellness. The American Heart Association Journal acknowledged that the relationship between seniors and pet ownership reduced cardiovascular disease problems. Recent reports have suggested an association of dog companionship with lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile, and diminished sympathetic responses to stress.There are several ways seniors and pets can interact, even if they can no longer fully care for their own: Visitation Therapy: Visitation therapy is one of the most common ways associated with senior communities. This program allows animals to visit older adults in a senior living community, retirement community, or their homes. The pets, in this case, are usually either certified pets that people will bring to these communities or older shelter animals who also crave this attention. Animal-assisted Therapy: There is also animal-assisted therapy where seniors are paired with animals that help them with physical skills and build confidence. With this, animals not only provide people with some time to enjoy their company but also assist on walks, movement, and more. In-Home Pet: There is pet ownership for seniors who can care for a pet. While not many communities allow residential pets, some have been known to make the exception and allow their residents to have smaller animals residing with them.Betsy owned pets as a child and younger adult. One of the aspects of moving into a community that was difficult for Betsy was the lack of her pets and the daily interaction that came with having one. On the days when the bunnies arrive, Betsy is more talkative with others and animated. The pet visits help with her social skills, lessen anxiety, and bring her great happiness. Providing seniors with these interactions not only gives them something to look forward to, but also companionship for those who do not thrive in social situations. Brian Wierima, community relations coordinator for the Gulf Coast Humane Society, helps run a Senior to Senior program in Lee County. Volunteers with the humane society take older dogs to five local senior living facilities in the community.We try to have these seniors interact with senior dogs, eight years or older, Wierima began. They are calmer. Their behavior and manners are better and it pairs well.The dogs go to recreation rooms for larger group visits or to individual rooms for seniors who do not wish to participate in larger groups. Providing both a group setting and an isolated environment allows individuals to take advantage of this event while not pushing seniors into situations that might make them uncomfortable.The seniors just love it, Wierima exclaimed. It is great for both our senior dogs and the seniors. There are benefits both ways. It is a very beneficial program. By the time you leave, you see the results. There are smiles. Also, it breaks up a routine for the residents, and many of them previously owned pets. In many of the senior residential homes, they cant have pets, so having some time with a dog fills that void they lost.It has become more common for humane societies to provide programs that encourage seniors to take these available times with the animals to fill a gap they might be missing. In some instances, if allowed, it also promotes adopting or fostering these senior pets. Gulf Coast Humane Society is one of the partners offering authorized communities animal fostering. They provide a senior fostering program where a senior citizen can temporarily take care of a dog or cat. All the food and transportation are provided. This removes some of the cost concerns while allowing the senior citizens and pets the comfort of each other. Wierima says this has many benefits, The animal gives the senior a routine, it gets them exercise. It gets them outside to take walks, he said.Weirma believes strongly that this addition to their communities activities has dramatically impacted their seniors. Cheryl Gregson, activities director at an assisted living facility in North Naples, has brought dogs, rabbits, horses, wolves, parrots and Trooper the raccoon to visit her seniors. She also has four parakeets that live in the common area.Its so important, Gregson stressed. Whenever a pet, any kind of pet, comes into the room, everybody lights up; everybody smiles, everybody is happy. It makes a difference.Betsy is not the only senior who has benefited from pet therapy activities. Across the nation, hundreds of communities provide similar opportunities to their residents, and the number continues to grow. Are seniors in your area looking for similar pet interaction options? Contact your local senior advisor today for more information on how to provide this in your community, or with assistance finding a community that does.