Therapy Dogs and the Elderly

October 2, 2012

Whether your elder is getting care in a hospital, nursing home, mental health centre or retirement home, therapy dogs can visit them.

These dogs can do many things from lifting the elder's spirits to assisting with physical therapy. A dog may stay with a patient for as little as five minutes or as long as an hour, depending upon the patient's need.

Therapy dogs can be of any size and breed from a large golden retriever to a tiny chihuahua.

Temperament is key to being a good therapy dog. Being well trained is not enough; it must also be easygoing and patient, and comfortable with strangers.

Therapy dogs can help break the tension for family members when visiting the elderly as there is another focus to the visit.

Nurses have noticed that after a visit by a therapy dog, patients sometimes have slower heart rates, require less pain medication and are less lonely.

It's a quality-of-life issue. It's about giving people access to what they like and enjoy.The elderly are reminded of the joy animals had brought them in the past.

It is sometimes simple pleasures that give the greatest results. Adding visits by a therapy dog to your elder's week can bring them much comfort and happiness.