Whether you have a dog or a cat, you love your pet pig or enjoy riding horses, animals help us lead healthier, more active lifestyles.
Vivage offers memory care and other long-term care services throughout Colorado and Missouri, and we have seen the positive impact pets and animals can have on our lives. This is why we are sharing the benefits of animal interactions and how our communities use these and other experiences to improve resident’s and individual’s quality of life.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, at this time, we have not been able to welcome our pet visitation programs back. Still, we have gotten creative with how we are encouraging animal interactions.
Positive Impact of Animal Interactions
Encourages Physical Activity
Depending on the type of animal, these interactions involve some form of physical activity. Between grooming, feeding, walking, or playing, individuals naturally stay active to engage and connect with the animal.
Additionally, the activities required to take care of an animal help individuals improve or maintain their motor skills. From opening a can of cat food to clipping a leash to a dog’s collar, an individual must regularly use their motor skills to care for the animal.
Helps People Form Stronger Relationships
An article published in Frontiers in Psychology states, “animal-assisted activity has been leveraged as an intervention to improve social functioning in older psychiatric and dementia patients.” Another study involving older adults with dementia showed that those in the presence of a dog had improved social relationships compared to those who did not have a pet.
What this really means is that animals and pets can provide more opportunities for socialization. The simple act of walking a dog gets an individual outside where there are more chances of socializing with another person versus staying indoors for most, if not all, of the day. Speaking with neighbors or other strangers on the street becomes easier, especially since people are likely to approach an individual if they have a pet.
Additionally, interacting with animals increases a person’s capacity for emotional bonding. When an individual has a pet, they form a deep emotional bond with the animal. This may make it easier for them to form stronger, more meaningful relationships with the people around them, putting others’ needs before their own.
The article published in Frontiers in Psychology also states, “human-animal interaction may provide social support for older adults, thus reducing the risk of loneliness.”
We all need socialization, but there may be circumstances out of our control that limit the amount we get. For instance, reduced mobility or a lack of reliable transportation could inhibit an individual from getting out and enjoying activities with friends.
Animals could be a solution to these setbacks. Having a pet or regularly interacting with an animal not only presents more socialization opportunities, but the animals themselves act as companions offering unconditional love and support.
According to UCLA Health, animal interactions can increase mental stimulation helping “assist in recall of memories and help sequence temporal events in patients with head injuries of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
For many of us, we have had pets throughout our lives. Spending quality time with an animal or even getting another pet can help bring back the memories of the pets we had in previous years.
In addition to the personalized memory care services we offer throughout our Vivage communities, we know that pets and animal interactions can be highly beneficial to stimulating a person’s memories. These and other familiar activities provide structure and routine, boost brain function, and promote wellness and holistic opportunities.
At Vivage, we strive to create an environment that provides all of these benefits and more. Our communities in Colorado and Missouri encourage socialization, physical activity, and mental stimulation through our long-term care services, activities, and amenities.
Even though our pet visitations may look different for the time being, we are working to find ways that our residents can reap the benefits of animal interactions while maintaining a safe environment for all. For example, in one of our communities, a volunteer and her therapy dog walk past our residents’ windows. Even though this is not the same as getting up close and personal with the dog, it still brings smiles to the residents’ faces. Additionally, virtual pet visits have been encouraged with families.
We understand that interacting with animals from a distance does not have the same impact as in-person visits, but safety for our residents, team members, and their families is our number one priority. We also want to remind our community members that Vivage is pet-friendly. If you or your loved one wishes to move in with your pet, please contact us for more information.
Our programs are designed to care for the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. In addition to our traditional care, we offer holistic services to complement the healing journey. To learn more about these services and what we have to offer, we invite you to contact a member of the Vivage team or visit our website.