As we get older, we often lose friends who have passed away, or have moved into assisted- living accommodation that are out of town, or even out of state. And with the hectic lives of people with a full-time jobs and/or family on the rise, we are often unable to spend as much quality time with our elderly family members as we would like.
To cope with the loneliness, some care facilities allow patients to bring pets into the facility, and many have found that elderly people benefit a great deal from having an animal friend at their side. Some assisted living residences allow animals such as birds, cats, dogs, and even rabbits, fish, and other small animals. However small dogs-fewer than 25 pounds- and occasionally cats are usually what the assisted living contracts allow.
Studies have revealed that interaction with animals may lower risk of heart disease. Individuals that owned pets had lower bad cholesterol levels and higher ‘good’ cholesterol levels than non-pet owners. The differences could not be attributed to diet or lifestyle in most cases.’[Assisted Living Facilities.2013]
Over the years, animal therapy has been used for people with disabilities. Most notably, people with autism develop bonds with their pets that they do not develop with their family or friends. This effect is also evident in elderly people, who sometimes find it difficult to remain connected to their families. Some residents who feel abandoned by their families when they move into care facilities regain a sense of happiness and hope and are able to come out of their shell while interacting with an animal.