It was a beautiful, sunny day for a senior care outing. As everyone filed onto the drive-thru safari tour bus, Amelia made her way to the back with her girlfriends and a bag of animal feed in hand. The tour guide told tales and relevant factoids as they traveled down the path into the park. The bus made its way to a stop, and Amelia saw the slender neck of a giraffe bending down to greet them. She couldn’t believe her eyes, as this big, beautiful creature blinked back at her. She extended her trembling arm with feed in hand. Her fear quickly bubbled into joy as the purple tongue greeted the snack. A smile danced across her face, and she felt a meaningful, intrinsic connection with this fantastic, wild creature.
Amelia felt joy during her animal interaction on the senior outing, but did you know that animals can pose a myriad of benefits for seniors? Further, did you know animals can actually have a positive impact on an older adult’s health?
How Animals Help
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bond between people and pets can have a positive impact on an individual’s health. The benefits of animals for humans can include:
- Decreased cholesterol levels
- Decreased blood pressure
- Reduced risk of developing feelings of loneliness and depression
- Increased interest in outdoor activities
- Increase in exercise
- Increase in social opportunities
In addition to health benefits, an animal interaction can make almost anyone feel increased levels of happiness and compassion. Other benefits of animals in senior care are an inspired sense of purpose and responsibility; a large amount of the population in senior care feel as though they lost some sort of meaning or direction in life. With an animal to care for or to visit, this can often make someone feel as though they have a responsibility to show love for the animal.
Pet Ownership Alternatives
Not every older adult can go out and buy a pet. Owning a pet can be expensive, time-consuming, and even laborious. If a senior has any form of cognitive impairment, even forgetfulness, it can be dangerous for the animal. Fortunately, there are alternatives to owning a pet.
- A family member's pet can be brought to the senior for interaction and visits
- A neighbor or friend can allow a senior to spend time with the animal
- A senior care community may take excursions to petting farms, the zoo, or local animal shelters
Not everyone is able to own a pet, but everyone can take advantage of the benefits of animals! Just because a senior does not qualify for pet ownership, does not mean they have to miss out on the love, companionship, and health benefits.
Brickmont Assisted Living loves creating valuable adventures, especially those that benefit a senior’s wellbeing. If you have an older loved one in senior care, you can also help improve their quality of life. Consider taking the family dog with you next time you go to visit your loved one. You can let your older loved one pet them, brush them, or perhaps walk them. If you do not have a family pet, you can take your loved one on an animal outing such as to the zoo or even an aquarium.
If you want your loved one to reside in a community that provides value, then schedule a visit!