Health and Wellness |

Animal Therapy

March 16, 2020
Therapy pet dog on couch next to elderly person in retirement rest home for seniors

For years we have been hearing about the benefits of maintaining social activities and friendships as we age to stay sharp and emotionally well. For many of us, this hardly comes as news. Spending time around those we love increases our quality of life and stimulates our minds and bodies in a myriad of ways.

The thing is, for many people, “those we love” don’t just include our friends and family, but often include our furry friends. Our pets and the animals we encounter every day also have positive impacts on our life. Recent studies have shown that controlled exposure to animals is an excellent way to improve the health of the aging in so many ways.

Animal therapy for the aging is a technique that uses animals to interact with seniors for numerous reasons to help improve their health and quality of life overall.[1]

Recently Be client Rita attended Riding School for Disabled in Townsville with her carer Debrah Eglinton. Rita spent time with the majestic creatures, patting and talking with them.

Rita grew up with horses and has wonderful memories of her ‘spirited’ horse Silver and caring for the family’s horses with her sister.

Later that day Rita returned home and over a cuppa said to Debrah, “you’ve made my life worth living.” Her visit with the horses sparked an absolute joy in Rita that she hadn’t experienced for a long time.

Debrah has decided to make their visits with Rita to Riding for Disabled a regular activity and said “even the next day Rita was still glowing and was bright as a button.”

elderly woman pats a horse during an outing

Studies show that just 15 minutes with a trained dog, cat, or another service animal can increase brain activity and serotonin levels in seniors. (Serotonin is known as “the feel-good hormone” and plays a crucial role in bodily function as well as our experiences of positive emotions.) [1]

Routine exposure to animals through pet therapy also has many other health-related benefits, including:

  • Stress reduction
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Improve socialisation
  • Increase the “feel good hormone” serotonin
  • Physical activity

Many of our regions host a range of social events involving animal therapy including visits to The Cat Café, Bribie Butterfly House and more. Contact your local region to find out about more activities.



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