One of the things many nursing home residents miss most is the companionship of a pet. The therapeutic benefits of pets may be even greater for those confined to a nursing home, where a visit from a warm, furry friend can lift spirits and brighten the day. While many nursing homes have regular visits from therapy dogs, many more are now opening their doors to permanent dog and cat residents.
Having a pet in the nursing home creates a homier environment, and while residents may not be able to care for a pet themselves, they look forward to regular visits from the resident dog or cat. When my own grandmother was admitted to a nursing home, she kept a special bag of dog treats, and she eagerly looked forward to giving a treat to the resident dog every day.
More dogs and cats are finding full-time homes in nursing homes as these facilities realize the therapeutic benefits of pets for the nursing home residents. Many pets are allowed to roam freely in the residents’ rooms, while others are part of a more structured program of pet visitations. Most nursing home residents report that they feel less depressed and lonely after a visit from a dog or cat. One study of nursing home residents found that most preferred one-on-one time with the resident pet, rather than interacting in a group setting with a pet.
Pets in nursing homes are a win-win situation: the nursing home residents enjoy the companionship offered by the resident pets, while the pet enjoys all the loving attention lavished upon them. If you are choosing a nursing home for someone you love, selecting a facility with resident pets may make the transition easier for your family member.
Have you had any experience with pets in a nursing home?