One of the hardest parts of aging is giving up a pet. Older adults who have to relinquish a pet when they move into an assisted living home often suffer from depression. Conversely, studies show that being around companion animals can lower our blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, and lift our moods.
Some assisted living facilities throughout the United States are now allowing residents to bring their own animals with them when they move in. Sunrise Senior Living is one such facility. They also have a companion animal program that benefits the residents and saves the lives of dogs and cats at risk of euthanasia in shelters.
Every companion animal living in a Sunrise community is saved from a local shelter. Having companion animals and pets from home in their new surroundings makes the transition easier for seniors, and prevents them from being forced to part from their beloved pets.
Here are a few more ways that companion animals help seniors:
1. Companion animals encourage seniors to stay active and engaged in their community.
2. Companion animals promote increased physical activity like taking walks or going outside to play, which leads to healthier joints and flexibility.
3. Companion animals provide comfort and companionship, which helps lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels.
4. Pet therapy programs help seniors with memory loss issues. It’s been shown that pets can help increase brain activity.
5. Families feel more at ease helping a loved one transition to a senior living community knowing that they will have the love and companionship of a furry friend.
Having companion animals at assisted living facilities is a win-win for everyone involved.
Michele C. Hollow writes about pets and wildlife for several publications. She is the founder of Pet News and Views and the author of The Everything Guide to Working with Animals.