The benefits of pet therapy in rehabilitative environments have become more and more widely recognized, especially for seniors.
Home Instead Senior Care launched their Pets and Seniors program in hopes of improving the lives of seniors.
The value of having a pet and regularly interacting with a pet has a positive outcome on the well-being of the elderly, both mentally and physically.
Home Instead owner Janine Karlsen a registered nurse with a master’s degree in counseling is passionate about advocating for senior services.
“When you talk to people who interact with pets regularly or take care of one, they feel like they have companionship, unconditional love, they feel like they have a purpose, or someone relies on them,” she said.
“If there’s a senior in your life and you know that their kind of lonely and they’re getting depressed, helping them get a pet can really help.” The Pets and Seniors program offers an online quiz that determines seniors’ needs. The ‘Who’s your pet pal?’ quiz consists of ten questions to figure out which pet is most compatible and how to go about acquiring a pet or the appropriate service.
“It could be a client that has dementia and they really don’t respond to outside stimulation, but they respond to a pet, either a dog or a cat,” she said.
Caregiver and volunteer Tashia Thompson pays a visit to different senior homes regularly with her best companion, Honey. Honey is a golden retriever puppy who ticks off all the boxes a service dog should. “When I bring Honey in it really adds quite the excitement to the care home facility,” she said. Tashia and Honey have been working for the Pets and Seniors program for a few months now.
Thompson said registering your pet as a care-pet requires jumping through a few hoops like visiting the vet and completing a couple of courses to make sure the service dog listens or doesn’t startle.
“It’s really cool, people that need our services a lot of the times aren’t able to take care of animals themselves, so it’s great that we can bring an animal over for half an hour or hour to add to their lives and at time bring back fond memories of owning a pet back in their time.”