Dogs are a great companion for people of all ages. They brighten your day without even trying, and they make sure you don’t feel alone. This same concept applies to nursing homes. Although some people think that nursing homes are filled with social interaction, the people in them have a lack of companionship and are usually lonely.
As people get older, they tend to lose more and more connections with friends and family. This often makes a person feel as though they have no one to rely on.
One way to resolve this disconnect is the presence of a pet in your life. Even in places like nursing homes dogs should be welcomed, but they often aren’t. Even with the growing study that pet therapy has many benefits. One of the most severe mental disorders that pet therapy can help is Alzheimer’s. Patients can interact with dogs through connections that would otherwise be difficult with other people. They can act as they please without having to conform to others. This allows for patients to feel comfortable and get over their disorders.
A lack of companionship is harmful for your mental and physical health. Dr. Jason Stull, a veterinary medicine assistant professor at Ohio State University, mentioned that pet visits relieve stress and anxiety, and promote physical activities such as walking.
I know from my personal experience with pets that they create some of the strongest bonds. They are something that people can trust.
Approximately two thirds of house-holds in the United States have pets, and about one half of the elderly population does as well. It is obvious that they are very prevalent in everyday life. You probably see several dogs being walked around your neighborhood or hear one barking from the house next to you. They obviously give people some sort of happiness if we have them willingly everywhere.
If they are so prevalent in most households, then why aren’t they widely used in nursing homes to bring out the joy in patients?
People in nursing homes tend to be very depressed and may not get very many visits from family members. They tend to lack certain bonds that cannot be acquired from staff members. Although they may be very caring, they cannot give their undivided attention to one person like a dog can.
Of course, there is the dilemma that having dogs around could be risky with allergies and possible attacks, but there are ways to prevent dogs from getting near patients with allergies or persecution if an attack were to occur.
One way of going about this would be to add a waiver to all people in the homes, including staff. This would make sure that dog companies or the nursing home won’t get persecuted and the staff would know who has allergies, so they can keep those patients away from the dogs.
Now where would the money come from? Well, there are many nonprofit organizations that clear dogs and allow them to help cheer up the guests. This would allow for a free way of getting dogs around these homes.
Communities may start to take part in this, and get their pets screened to bring them to places like this.
Currently, one of my pets is visiting children hospitals to cheer up some kids. So, it is easy enough to volunteer your pets. And why just stop at visiting kids? We should spread the love that pets give to all people. Who doesn’t love seeing someone smile?
If people start to realize the importance of pets in places that consist of people that desperately need some compassion, such as nursing homes, then maybe it can grow to bigger scales.
They could create some new homes, or modify older ones, to allow dogs completely. All people in the buildings would need to be cleared to not having allergies or being fine with pets around. This could allow volunteers to come whenever they’d like, and not just be restricted to one part.
If this is not possible, then I would recommend that nursing homes hold periodic events where dogs can come and visit, like a dog day. This could be either weekly or monthly. Whatever each nursing home is fine with. This way, they can schedule when they are ready for visits or not.
It is up to every nursing home to make sure their guests are happy, and dogs are a great way of doing it.
Botek, A. (2018, March 05). Combatting the Epidemic of Loneliness in Seniors. Retrieved April 16, 2018
Byrne, M. P. (2018, January). How Pet Therapy Has Changed Assisted Living – A Place for Mom. Retrieved April 16, 2018
Cherniack, E. P., & Cherniack, A. R. (2014, November 16). The Benefit of Pets and Animal- Assisted Therapy to the Health of Older Individuals
Crist, C. (2018, April 12). Pets in nursing homes bring both benefits and risks. Retrieved April 16, 2018