The Benefits of Pet Therapy for Seniors


seniors and pets

Seniors and Pets

Did you know it’s been proven that animals can help lower our stress and blood pressure and fight off depression? Anyone who has ever felt the quiet rumble of a cat’s purr sitting next to them on the sofa, or been greeted at the door by a very happy dog after a long day know that pets offer a calming effect and make them feel needed.

Recent studies have shown that just fifteen minutes of bonding time with an animal promotes hormonal changes within the brain. As the brain produces serotonin, or the “feel-good” hormone, stress levels start to drop. Other studies have shown that seniors who stay socially active or own pets decline in health far less rapidly than isolated or depressed seniors.

Animals can actually help keep seniors socially engaged, too. Not only does walking a dog offer important physical activity for seniors, but it also provides an opportunity to talk to others about their pets. Not only that, but a pet alone can offer seniors the physical contact they may be lacking; 74% of seniors reported that simply touching their pet made them feel better. An animal can provide social contact to a senior who may be isolated due to physical limitations, leading to reduced feelings of loneliness and depression.

Health Benefits of Animals for Seniors

Many senior living communities these days are offering pet therapy for seniors because of the numerous benefits interaction with animals offer to seniors. Therapy animals are used to promote health and healing for seniors of any age range or health condition, whether they are chronically ill, have ongoing disabilities, or suffer from depression.

Some of the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of pet therapy for seniors include:

  • The ability to have something to pet or touch can result in lower blood pressure, normal heart rate and reduced stress.
  • Caring for a pet helps increase a senior’s self-confidence and self-esteem, providing them a way to feel useful and responsible for something.
  • Feeding and grooming can help increase seniors’ physical skills and help them become more active.
  • Pets provide emotional stability during stressful situations, helping to reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Seniors with heart conditions who own pets tend to outlive those who don’t.
  • Walking a dog provides much-needed physical exercise, which leads to improved mobility and a healthier lifestyle overall.
  • For dementia patients, animals can be soothing to those who have difficulty using language.
  • Animals can help improve socialization- they listen without judgment and give unbiased affection, especially when a senior may desire to share the thoughts they may not be comfortable telling family or friends.

At Lourdes-Noreen McKeen, pets are welcome in our independent living community at McKeen Towers! Come find out how you can truly enjoy all the comforts of home with all the conveniences of upscale hotel living. Contact us today for more information.

Senior Living

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