Anyone who doesn’t realize the powerful impact that owning a pet can have on senior care is missing out on some wonderful opportunities. If you have a loved one who resides in assisted living, and they have indicated a desire to have a pet again (if they had one in their younger years), then this could be an opportunity to help boost their overall health.
Research has indicated that pets and pet therapy can have a profoundly positive impact on the health and well-being of people of all ages, especially seniors. There is a chemical process that occurs within the brain that is the result of the stroking of a pet. For example, if your elderly loved one is petting a cat in her lap, then the levels of cortisol in the brain become reduced and serotonin increases. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced when the individual is feeling anxious. It is connected to the innate fight or flight response of an individual. Serotonin is the hormone that helps you feel good, boosts your self-esteem, and provides an overall positive emotional state. Combining the two (the reduction of cortisol and boost of serotonin) has a direct impact on health and vitality.
The interaction that one has with a pet, as long as it’s positive, can lead to decreased cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and a reduction in the risk of heart attack or stroke. It can also have a direct impact on combating depression.
The issue, though, when it comes to an assisted living facility is that not all of them allow pets. Depending on where your loved one resides, pet therapy may not be an option for him or her, or they may need to leave the facility in order to take advantage of the connection and health benefits that pet therapy can provide.
If your elderly loved one has expressed an interest in owning a pet, you will first need to discuss this with the assisted living facility administrative staff. If they allow certain pets, they will probably be limited to cats and possibly small dogs. If they don’t allow pets of any kind, and you believe that it’s an important aspect of senior care, then you may wish to seek out an assisted living community that allows for pets.
Pet therapy can have a positive impact on health, not only for your elderly loved one, but for you as well. Just make sure that care of the animal is considered before taking this step. If your loved one can’t care for the animal properly, then it may not be a viable option.
When researching options for assisted living facilities in Kemah, TX, call us at (832) 315-3219. Assisted Living counselors at Serenity Gardens are available to talk with you about your caregiving needs while providing better, affordable care for you or a loved one.