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Pet Therapy: How Your Aging Loved One Can Benefit

Having a dog, cat, or other animal in your life can be rewarding for a variety of reasons. However, the benefits gained can be even more significant for your aging loved one. The staff at Anchorage Home Care Assistance wants to share the emotional, physical, and mental benefits pet therapy can offer the elderly.

Emotional

Emotional disorders such as depression are common in the elderly. Recent studies have revealed over 50 percent of all seniors over the age of 65 will experience depression or a major depressive disorder. When interacting with therapy animals, your loved one’s body will release a variety of important endorphins like oxytocin that can actually combat these emotional disorders.

Physical

The vast majority of seniors will experience a number of serious medical problems at some point in their lives, and a therapy animal could help them manage the side effects of these debilitating issues. Studies published in the American Journal of Critical Care have shown us that therapy animals can change how seniors perceive and manage their pain. In some cases, simply petting a therapy animal two or three times a week allowed seniors to reduce the amount of painkillers they needed for chronic pain.

Mental

It is important for your loved one to remain as mentally engaged as possible to slow the rate of cognitive decline. While everyone will lose at least some of their cognitive skills as they grow older, stimulating multiple senses at the same time has been shown to drastically impede this mental deterioration. Therapy animals are beneficial to a senior’s cognitive health because they trigger almost all of the senses during interaction.

It is estimated that over 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. These life-altering disorders can eventually impact every aspect of a senior’s life, including mental health and emotional wellbeing. Frequent interaction with a therapy animal can become an important aspect of Anchorage dementia care because it can increase the production of serotonin, dopamine, and other natural chemicals that are often effective at lessening the side effects of dementia.

Pet therapy can help your loved one find the health and happiness he or she needs and deserves. The caregivers at Home Care Assistance can have a similar impact on your loved one’s wellbeing. Our caregivers can provide emotional support, mental and social stimulation, and assistance with a wide variety of daily tasks. We also offer comprehensive Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s care in Anchorage. For more information on our senior care services, call one of our friendly Care Managers at (907) 770-0907 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.