When people hear the words “animal assisted therapy” their first thoughts are seeing-eye dogs and pets that are used to assist those with disabilities. However, animal assisted therapy, also known as AAT, actually offers a different type of assistance – one that is focused on providing the elderly with cognitive, emotional and social therapy.
What is ATT?
AAT utilizes a wide range of animals including dogs and cats, as well as less common animals such as rabbits and miniature horses. When a part of ATT, handlers take these animals to visit and interact with seniors on a regular basis. Seniors are able to connect with the animals emotionally, building a trust and rapport with them overtime. While any senior can benefit from the companionship of an animal, studies show that seniors with mild or moderate dementia connect on an even greater level and in a way that they are no longer able to with other humans. If your aging parent or loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, learn how a Phoenix dementia home caregiver could further provide assistance.
What are the benefits of ATT?
There are many benefits to AAT. Interaction with an animal is mentally stimulating for seniors and can also help decrease feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety. Animals also fulfill the fundamental human need for touch. With age, touch is a sense that becomes less important and less frequent in life. Pets help restore this feeling, allowing seniors to pet and play with them. There is also a level of companionship present, which can help a senior to feel valued and loved. In addition to the benefits that are easily identified, clinically documented benefits of AAT include lowered blood pressure. Interacting with an animal on a regular basis has proved to have calming effects for seniors and older adults.
Why is ATT gaining popularity?
While there is no concrete answer as to why ATT is so effective, the benefits of this type of therapy are clear and easily identified when practiced. For this reason, ATT is becoming a part of mainstream medicine. Phoenix home care agencies, nursing homes, hospitals and facilities are starting to incorporate ATT into their plans of care to help improve patient outcomes. Whether the senior is suffering from an advanced illness or is recovering from a surgery or medical procedure, the power that animals can have on a senior’s spirit and mood is undeniable.