Latest research has shown that Pet Therapy can boost health and general well-being in humans, particularly in the elderly. Research has revealed many benefits from Pet Therapy, including:
Decreased blood pressure
Recall and reminiscence
Improved motor skills
Many of the elderly people who were normally unresponsive to other therapies were found to ‘brighten up’ and have a little chat with a pet. Pets used for Pet Therapy should first undergo special training so they don’t panic when faced with real life scenarios. They should we well socialised, be very obedient and know how to interact with people using mobility aids such as crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs.
Pet Therapy is offered in some residential aged care facilities and is a type of therapy involving animals as a form of treatment. The goal may be to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. The positive benefits of pets have been demonstrated to stimulate social interaction, reduce anxiety, combat depression and overcome some of the negative aspects of living in care.
Pet Therapy or Animal Assisted Therapy can be used specifically for dementia care and can contribute to the reduction of the use of medications, including psychotropic drugs for behavioural problems (Schols and Van der Schriek-van Meel 2006). It is important that residents who are introduced to this therapy are those that have previously enjoyed looking after domestic pets or being around animals,that they don’t have known allergies to animals, that they don’t fear or intensely dislike domestic pets or animals and don’t have a history of animal abuse. Those that didn’t like animals previously are less likely to respond in a positive or therapeutic way.
People with early stages of dementia may enjoy looking at pets, walking them, stroking or brushing them. Pet Therapy is also therapeutic for people that have some vision and hearing loss and need tactile stimulation.