Hingham, MA (PRWEB) January 28, 2013
Animals are increasingly recognized for the therapeutic value they provide to older adults. Today, this therapeutic use of pets is common in nursing centers and assisted living communities throughout the country. Known as pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy (AAT), interaction with animals is encouraged and can also be integrated into a resident’s care plan.
Residents of Harbor House Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Hingham, Massachusetts, routinely look forward to visits from Diego, a 4-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Diego comes with his owner to the Massachusetts Welch Healthcare & Retirement Group Nursing Center 2-3 times a week. “The positive affect a pet can have on the health and well-being of an older person is remarkable. The animals help lift a person’s mood and give people something to focus on outside of themselves,” says Susan Jessup, administrator of Harbor House Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. Jessup encourages family members to bring along their leashed dogs for visits.
It’s no surprise how popular visits with Diego have become. “It’s wonderful to see the residents come alive when they interact with Diego,” says owner Liz Colebourn, director of activities at the Hingham, MA, Welch Healthcare & Retirement Group nursing center.
Long-term studies have proven that an interactive approach involving pet therapy offers significant emotional and physical benefit to seniors. Animals have been effective in reducing loneliness, anxiety and depression. And the act of touching and interacting with an animal can help lower a person's blood pressure and provide stress relief.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that elderly pet owners tend to be more active, cope better with stress, and have lower blood pressure than seniors without pets. Even fish foster healthy living. A Purdue University study demonstrates that the presence of an aquarium at mealtimes stimulates the appetite of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Welch Healthcare & Retirement Group owns and manages the 142-bed Harbor House Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, which provides high-level rehabilitative, medical, and skilled nursing care on a short- or long-term basis. For more information visit: http://www.welchhrg.com