We all know the importance of exercise, diet and regular medical checkups in maintaining our health as we age. But, it might surprise you to learn that the furry friends we know and love can also help us enjoy a happier, fuller life during our golden years. One of the most profound benefits of therapy dogs for seniors is that they can improve our quality of life by forming truly meaningful connections with us.
Sound far-fetched? According to research from Pets for The Elderly, therapy dog visits for seniors is a great way to improve wellness in a variety of areas. Therapy dogs are loyal, open, loving and they offer genuine companionship. Who wouldn’t want to be visited by a friend like that?
In this article, you’ll discover incredible therapy dog benefits that have an impact on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Physical Benefits of Therapy Dogs
As soon as a therapy dog walks down the hall of a senior living community, residents immediately perk up. Senior living communities that offer canine therapy give seniors an opportunity to participate in dog walking, pairing physical exercise with a caring connection. Even something as simple as petting a therapy dog can reduce stress, stabilize a heart rate or even lower blood pressure.
Just the appearance of a therapy dog gives some people extra motivation to get up and out of their rooms and walk towards a new and exciting experience. Think of therapy dogs as a trusted friend who inspires you or your loved one to live a more active lifestyle. Even activities like playing and grooming can help maintain fine motor skills and physical dexterity. That’s why many therapy dog programs incorporate these activities into their visits of senior living communities.
Mental Benefits of Therapy Dogs
Scheduling therapy dog visits for seniors has a substantial benefit on mental health. To put it simply, dogs by nature make us happy. For many people who struggle with socializing or suffer from isolation, therapy dogs offer a more accommodating way to create a connection. Dogs are there to support us without judgment and are not biased when it comes to offering affection. By creating this connection, people can gain more confidence and feel more fulfilled by sharing in their companionship.
Therapy dog benefits range from reducing stress and anxiety to giving us a greater sense of self-worth. Sharing a meaningful moment with a therapy dog helps remind us of the benefits that come with approaching each day with optimism.
For individuals in need of memory support, using language to express themselves can prove to be challenging at times. Therapy dogs create a soothing effect where people can momentarily break through the barrier of dementia or Alzheimer’s for a special connection.
Emotional Therapy Dog Benefits
Many older adults suffer from some form of loneliness or depression. There is a feeling of being disconnected from our past experiences and we can sometimes struggle to find a new purpose. One of the most incredible benefits of therapy dogs is their ability to decrease feelings of loneliness and depression. It’s all about the calming presence of this almost immediate social bond. Loved ones can see the benefits of therapy dogs firsthand. Negative thoughts are replaced with the unconditional love of a trusted companion.
Imagine a dog rolling in the grass on a warm day under the sun. Dogs have no problem living in the moment, and whether they are aware or not, dogs embrace each moment as a gift. It’s no surprise that therapy dog visits for seniors allow them to learn more about mindfulness. Mindfulness is about focusing all your attention on the pure experience of the present moment.
Where Rich Experiences Meet Meaningful Friendships
At Senior Star we’re proud to offer therapy dogs at many of our locations. It’s just one of the ways we strive to offer a continuing care retirement community that sparks a sense of continued passion for a well-lived future. We’d love to invite you to experience what community-driven senior living has to offer. Find a community near you and be sure to look at the active lifestyle options available at Senior Star.