When you are in a long-term care or an assisted living facility, life can get lonely. You have had a major change to your life and routine and are not able to do the things that your once took for granted. The changes in routine can leave you depressed and lethargic. Everybody needs a “pick me up” sometimes, but it’s especially critical when you are in a new environment. Being able to smile is important, and a visit from a therapy dog may be just the boost you need.

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) uses the presence of animals during treatment for a variety of patients including those living in nursing homes or long term care facilities. In these facilities, trainers bring in animals, typically dogs, for short visits with patients. The patients will have the opportunity to pet the animal, talk to them and play with them.

Animal-assisted therapy comes with a myriad of benefits for patients. This includes:

  1. Decreasing negative emotions: Animal assisted therapy can reduce negative behaviors by shifting the focus of the patient from their illness to the loving animal. This can encourage more physical activity and better communication.
  2. Reduce feeling of loneliness: Everyone needs a “pick me up” and interacting with an animal who will happily let you pet him/her can bring joy and a sense of hope.
  3. Enhance therapy sessions: Therapy sessions can be enhanced because therapists with animals are seen as less-threatening. This allows for an easier bond between the therapist and the patient.
  4. Lower Blood Pressure: Studies show that people who interact dogs have lower blood pressure than those who don’t.

At AstraCare, we have our own therapy dog, Bentley. Bentley loves to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and children’s centers to provide joy, affection and emotional support. To learn more about Bentley and all of AstraCare’s services, click here.

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