The Perks of Playing with Pets


Posted by Kia Crawford on September 23rd, 2016 in Spirit | No Comments

There are lots of different types of therapy – like music, for instance – designed to help people in all kinds of ways. One such therapy has become very popular in recent years: Pet therapy. The staff of Dogwood Forest strongly believes in the benefit of pet therapy for our residents, and we are excited to tell you about some of the ways it can improve their quality of life.

Having a pet to care for can give a resident a sense of purpose. 

Many times, our residents have to leave much trinity-playing-with-petsof their former life behind when moving into our community. They no longer live on their own, and are much more dependent on others for their well-being, which can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. But when they have a pet to walk, brush, feed, or play with, they are able to find a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth. Residents are more willing to socialize, will participate in more group activities, and have more self-confidence after caring for a therapy dog.

Pet therapy has been shown to improve the quality of life for people dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. 

Recent studies have shown that consistent pet therapy has encouraged even the most affected patients to eat more, socialize with others, and more tactile and cognitive stimulation. While pet therapy is not a cure for memory loss, the unconditional love of a devoted pet has shown to increase the overall happiness of patients who struggle with memory issues. This is often attributed to the non-judgmental, eternally happy nature of a therapy dog, which allows each resident to feel safe and secure in their environment.

Interacting with pets on a consistent basis improves physical health. 

From lowering blood pressure to decreasing joint pain, the health benefits of pet therapy are numerous. For patients who require physical therapy, caring for a pet has been shown to decrease recovery time as well as increased fine motor skills and development. Petting a dog will actually prompt a feeling of relaxation, which has led to patients needing fewer medications after pet therapy. Endorphins are also released when interacting with a pet – it literally makes people happier and calmer to play with a dog.

These are just a few of the ways that pet therapy can change a resident’s life for the better. These pets are carefully trained to work with each resident, and they have enough love for the whole community. If your loved one is a resident with us, or if you are deciding whether assisted living is the right step for your parent, find us on Facebook or Twitter to ask how pet therapy can help. And check back on our social media over the next few weeks to learn about an exciting pet therapy opportunity for all of our residents!