Residents at Holiday Retirement communities are turning to new friends to improve the quality of their lives. With the help of some four-legged caregivers, residents are reaping the benefits of pet therapy. Reducing anxiety and depression and helping to increase longevity, the time our residents are spending with these animals is much more than a belly rub and a scratch behind the ears.
The infographic below outlines seven reasons why seniors make great owners, as told through the eyes of a pet.
Choosing the perfect pet for a senior
Numerous studies show animals help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, combat depression, and make it easier for a senior to socialize. Animals can be wonder companions for seniors, but they require care and must be a good match for their human partner.
With this in mind, Holiday Retirement put together a checklist to help choose the correct pet for an older adult. Here are four things to consider when choosing your perfect pet:
- Find a suitable breed: Size does matter when you are choosing a companion for your golden years.
- Consider the age of the animal: First, we recommend getting an older pet. Second, if you adopt or purchase an older pet, it's likely to have learned some obedience and skills in its earlier years.
- Temperament of the pet: Before you bring a new dog or cat into your home, consider how the pet's personality will mesh with your own.
- Your medical needs: It's important to consider your medical needs.
Download a copy of "Choosing the perfect pet for a senior" checklist for some additional thought provokers when considering your companion.
Pet therapy keeps Holiday residents happy and healthy
Many of our communities are taking advantage of the benefits of pet therapy by partnering with local organizations and volunteers to create their own, unique programs that bring together seniors and animal companions. Get in touch to find out what a community near you is doing!
Cats and dogs may be considered the “usual suspects” as therapy pets, but for residents at Jordan Oaks in Cary, North Carolina, miniature horses provide smiles and a dose of nostalgia. Today’s seniors often grew up in small towns or rural areas where riding horses was a common pastime; seeing and interacting with the miniature horses from Horse Hugs brings back special memories.
For residents of River’s Edge in Savannah, Georgia, tropical birds make regular visits. Trained to be hands-on through “Wings of Joy,” these birds are a welcomed treat for residents – making themselves at home on seniors’ shoulders and performing special tricks.
Residents at the Renaissance-Sherman in Sherman, Texas, have developed a special bond with Maggie, a golden retriever. Always one for theatrics, Maggie’s weekly visits usually involve her prancing around the community while joyful residents wait to greet her with a smile, pat on the back, or even an invitation to jump in their laps.
At Kittery Estates in Kittery, Maine, residents know firsthand how much a therapy dog can help increase socialization and minimize feelings of depression. Their weekly visits from Canine Companion Organization are filled with smiles and laughter. One resident even takes the opportunity to leave her wheelchair to sit on the floor with the dogs.
Astor House at Springbrook Oaks
Therapy pets come in all shapes and sizes at Astor House at Springbrook Oaks in Newberg, Oregon. From miniature ponies to a black lab named Cherokee, residents truly enjoy the regular visits from these animal friends. Additionally, residents have made trips out to a small ranch in Oregon where they feed and pet the horses. “I love the smell of horse on my hands, I don’t plan on washing my hands for a few days,” says one resident.
Residents’ overwhelming love for animals has spurred The Stratford in High Point, North Carolina, to seek pet friends for both entertainment and therapy. Visits from bunnies, dogs, a pony, and small farm animals bring smiles to the residents’ faces, conversation to their lips, and joy to their hearts. For some of the quieter residents, pet therapy has proven to be a wonderful outlet for engaging them not only with the animals, but with other residents as well.
The Woods at Canco
The Woods at Canco residents in Portland, Maine, enjoy monthly visits from the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. Each month, volunteers visit the community with an adoptable pet. Birds, bunnies, cats, and dogs have all visited the community in the past. Residents even pay a visit to the shelter at least once a year. Thanks to enthusiastic participation in pet therapy, the relationship between the residents and shelter has blossomed into hosting fundraisers and community dog shows.
Holiday Retirement Home Office
Holiday Retirement residents are not the only ones involved in pet therapy. Laura, a receptionist for Holiday Retirement in Lake Oswego, Oregon, trains therapy dogs and volunteers with them every week at a physical therapy clinic in Oregon City, Oregon. The organization she works with, Paws for Love, provides pet therapy in a variety of medical and social settings. With residents and patients always looking forward to her visit, Laura insists her work with therapy dogs over the last 10 years is “the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”