Animal Companions for Older Adults

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Happy senior with therapy dog
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Animal Companions for Older Adults

April 20, 2018
Animals bring joy and fun into our lives, and they can be good for our health, too. For those who aren’t able to keep a pet at home for financial or other reasons (having a pet can be a lot of work!), InnovAge offers service and therapy dogs in our PACE centers.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of animal companionship for older adults.

A Senior’s Best Friend
Visits from a friendly dog can break the daily routine, which gives participants at our PACE centers something new to focus on. We’ve seen first-hand how simply petting a pup can encourage warm, social behavior among our participants.

InnovAge Occupational Therapist Susan Parks regularly brings her dog Rosie to the Denver PACE center to spend time with participants.

“Most of our participants don’t have the room, mobility, or resources to keep a pet, so they love spending time with Rosie at the PACE center,” said Parks. “One participant even takes Rosie on her walking laps around the center each day. Rosie sits on the seat of her rollator while they walk and visit other participants.”

Studies also show that interacting with animals can improve older adults’ overall health, both cognitively and physically. The following are some physical and mental health benefits of animal companionship for older adults.
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Regulated heart rate
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Increased participation in social and physical activities
  • Decreased loneliness

Catch a glimpse of Rosie in action at our Denver PACE center by watching this video.
 
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