Facility-Sponsored Pet Therapy and Companion Programs
Many senior living facilities are utilizing pet therapy and companion programs for their residents, which involve the permanent placement or regular visitation of dogs or cats, as well as birds, fish or rabbits. Research of these programs indicate several benefits for the elderly, including combating loneliness, encouraging nurturing behaviors, socialization, mental stimulation, and even lowering blood pressure due to a calming effect. Over the years, pet therapy and companion programs have received such wide acclaim that the observance of pets in senior living facilities has become commonplace throughout the country.
However, not every resident wants to have a pet in his or her environment; and some residents have conditions, such as allergies or asthma, that may deter them from physical contact. Allergic reactions to cat dander or saliva can cause problems that are manifested by symptoms of cough, wheezing, rhinitis, asthma, conjunctivitis and skin reactions.
Before initiating a pet therapy or companion program, providers should determine which residents are allergic, do not like pets, are afraid of them or simply feel that pets belong outside. Those residents should be shielded from physical contact when the pets are nearby, whether temporarily or permanently.
Read about recommended guidelines on our Facility Sponsored Pet Therapy and Companion Programs document to help protect your residents and facility when sponsoring a pet therapy and companion program.