July 29, 2016

Pets in Nursing Homes are great for Seniors

Packing up and moving to a nursing home or any other long-term care facility is one of the most depressing events in a senior citizen’s life. They suddenly have to fit their entire lives into one room. Often that means leaving many things behind, including their beloved pets, to move on to this next chapter in their lives.

Despite the high population of other residents and staff in nursing home facilities, loneliness and depression often follow soon afterward. In recent years, many nursing homes have started having dogs on the premises because of the many benefits it can bring to the residents, the staff, and the animals themselves.

Benefits to the Residents

There are many benefits to the residents of a long-term care facility when there are furry little paws scampering down the hallways. Having a dog in a nursing home brings joy and excitement to their day and gives them something to focus on besides their own problems.

People Love Pets

Even the most aggressive resident can’t resist the furry charm of a dog. The dog stimulates their memory by reminding them of pets from their childhood and calms them while giving them something to do. Having the pet to nurture and love will also help them forget about their surroundings for a few minutes.

Regardless of their physical condition or mobility levels, anyone can have the love a dog. Dogs are not discriminatory. They don’t care about a resident’s physical limitations, what they look like, or who they are. They give them unconditional love in exchange for a little bit of attention.

Dogs Provide Health Benefits for Seniors

Studies have shown that having dogs in a nursing home environment also provides health benefits for seniors that can increase their longevity. The calming and therapeutic effect of petting an animal lowers their stress levels and blood pressure, and can even prevent heart attacks.

There are interpersonal benefits as well. Having animals in a nursing home creates a livelier environment and not only increases communication between residents, it also helps new residents in the home make friends faster. It gives everyone something to talk about by providing a common ground for conversation and is an excellent ice breaker.

Benefits to Staff Members

Having dogs or animals in a nursing home is a great way to boost morale and staff spirits. Nurses often become depressed as their favorite residents pass away or decline in health. After a while, the very act of going to work becomes depressing, and staff members take sick days to avoid it.

Having pets in a long-term care facility gives the staff members something to look forward to each day, and in turn, reduces the number of sick days taken. The joy and happiness they bring to an otherwise depressing environment creates a more relaxed atmosphere and results in increased productivity.

Benefits to the Pets

Pets in a long-term care facility have it made. They get to enjoy constant attention from people who may not otherwise get much attention on a regular basis. In exchange for some cuddling and kisses, they get their fur stroked while people talk to them and tell them stories of the days of long ago, as well as the odd treat here and there.

Dogs are loving companions who fit right into the nursing home setting and provide the loving attention that seniors so desperately need to brighten their days. Given the benefits to the residents, the staff members, and the pets, all nursing homes could definitely benefit from the happiness that only a dog could bring to their facility.

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