Growing into seniority (age 65 and older) is one of the hardest transitions in life, and it’s not just because of the bodily changes that happen around these ages. As in Erickson’s 8thPsychosocial stage, Ego Integrity versus Despair, acclimating in golden ages depends on how satisfied they are about the life they have led. This includes personal relationships and acceptance of their limitations.

The elderly is burdened with the dilemma of wanting to be independent, but ultimately realizing that they cannot physically do so. This is why elderly care includes a holistic approach to answering an elderly person’s needs. This includes companionship that can be achieved through pet therapy.

Pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy, is a research-based method of relieving stress for the elderly. Service dogs are some of the most common companions for seniors, and they provide positive healthy outcomes in the mental physical and emotional functions of the elderly.

BENEFITS OF HAVING A SERVICE DOG

Senior citizens are found to be generally happy when conferred with a furry companion. Here are some benefits of service dogs to senior citizens:

• Emotional BenefitsService dogs first and foremost offer companionship, which in turn increases the self-esteem of the elderly and decreases their loneliness. An improved emotional function also enables the senior to increase their social interaction, expanding their comfort level and reduces depression and anxiety.
• Mental Benefits. Pet therapy benefits the elder cognitively, because caring for a pet entails planning their care, and ensuring that they are ready for any shifts in the pet’s needs. This will also enable them to interact with the pet handler to discuss the details of pet therapy. Service dogs keep their owner’s mind constantly running, which is a good form of brain exercise.
• Physical BenefitsDepending on the level of pet care practice the senior citizen can perform, physical benefits may vary from one therapy to another. For example, if the elder is able to walk their dog, they are also increasing their exercise. Pet grooming also enables them to increase mobility, which enhances their physical capabilities. Since service dogs are stress-relieving, some positive effects such as reduced anxiety and depression, and lowered blood pressure, are noted.

HOW PET THERAPY WORKS

Any pet can be a potential companion for the elderly, but a service dog is taught to meet the needs of the elderly. These dogs are highly trained to have a sustainable interaction with seniors, specifically those who are using mobility aids such as crutches or wheelchairs. They have basic obedience training, and are well-adapted to socialization, as they might be expected to frequently meet new people.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SERVICE DOG FOR THE ELDERLY

There are a lot of dog breeds that can provide excellent companionship for the senior citizen, such as the friendly ones like the Maltese, Schnauzer, and the Cocker Spaniel. Cockers, for example, are highly adaptable and very friendly. They are also affectionate towards their owner, which is a very desirable quality for any senior citizen who feel quite lonely. Cockers can also be energetic, and would be good for elders who need the exercise.

Dogs are sensational choices for pet therapy, and this is because they can be loyal, charming and affectionate, which are good to have for senior citizens. They love their owner unconditionally, and remain faithful as long as they are also well-taken care of.