Pets Help Care Home Residents Keep Calm
More and more care homes are beginning to understand the positive impact that animals can have on residents. Research has proved that simply having animals around can dramatically increase happiness, and care home staff report the positive effects that animals can bring.
Many older people have had pets at some time in their lives, and stroking and interacting with pets in the care home environment reminds them of other animals they have known and loved. Whether they have formerly owned cats, dogs, chickens, donkeys or any other sort of animal, meeting and touching an animal in the care home helps them to turn back time. These happy memories help to foster a sense of well-being, and care home workers report the very positive effects that such visits have on so many of their care home residents.
The Benefits of Pets in Care Homes
It’s long been known that stroking a pet provides excellent health benefits, such as a lowering of blood pressure and heart rate, along with a reduction in stress hormones. Being around an animal also provides a powerful boost to feel-good hormones, which can dramatically alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.
In some cases, workers in nursing homes have reported that residents with severe memory problems that limit their human interaction have improved dramatically after having one-to-one interaction with a pet. It seems that there is something about stroking an animal, and forming a bond with it, that has a profound effect on the human psyche.
Workers at a nursing home in the US report that, following an interaction with a poodle, a resident with severe memory problems who had not spoken for two years began talking to the dog. Four weeks later, the same man had begun to communicate with staff and other residents, as though something in his brain had been unlocked.
All Types of Animals
Most people think of dogs and cats as the main types of pet, but there are charities and groups that aim to introduce nursing home residents to many different types of animals. Smaller pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits are extremely popular, as their small size means that they can sit on the resident’s lap and be stroked and cuddled.
Creatures as diverse as donkeys, chickens, cockatoos, land snails and even snakes have all been successfully introduced into the care home environment, to the delight of residents. Handling these creatures seems to unlock memories at an astonishing rate, fostering greater interactions between residents and staff and bringing huge amounts of happiness to everyone in the environment.
Many care homes are reluctant to introduce pets into the environment due to health and safety concerns, but having seen the positive effects that animals can have on residents, it seems inevitable that we will begin to see more pets in care homes in the future.