How Pets Are Giving Diabetic Seniors New Zest for Life
Many diabetic elderly and retired people can no longer live on their own, so they move to the next phase of their lives in an assisted-living facility. However, they’ve also had a pet all their lives. A cat on the lap is as necessary as the morning coffee. Fortunately, more assisted-living facilities are opening their doors to canine and feline companions.
Reservation for Two, Please
There’s more than one example of how an animal can add some spark to a senior citizen’s life. According to health.usnews.com, a woman in the early stages of dementia arrived at Brooke Grove Retirement Village in Sandy Spring, Md. with her cat in tow. Staffers had to help the woman remember to feed the cat, with some initial resentment. However, they came to realize how much the animal helped the woman — and others around her. Pets are now part of the Brooke Grove family as staff encourage seniors to bring along their pets, as long as they are well-behaved.
What the Professionals Are Saying
Dennis Hunter, Vice President at Brooke Grove, told health.usnews.com it’s important to keep the environment in a retirement community as normal as possible. “For most people that includes pets,” Hunter said.
Loren Shook is chief executive officer of Silverado Senior Living, a company based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. that runs 17assisted living facilities in four states. “Pets are useful in reducing depression, anxiety and re-engaging people in life,” Shook was quoted as saying.
An animal also can help an elderly person feel engaged, needed and connected to another living thing.
Duvall, Wash. veterinarian, Dr. Kevin Sievers, explains to aplaceformom.com that the benefit a human being achieves from a pet can give them renewed meaning to life and improved overall well-being. It takes their minds off of their present physical condition.
According to a University of Minnesota study and experts in the field mentioned at the website, pet owners have significantly lower systolic blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while heart rates and blood pressure of pet owners are more stable when they face difficult situations — if pets are at their sides. Also, say goodbye to depression when there is a canine or feline friend around, according to Psychology Today.
Know What You are Getting Into
Not all assisted-living facilities allow pets because they might harm other patients, and they require additional care such as feeding, walking, etc. However, assistedliving101.com recommends potential residents explore the kinds of facilities that allow pets to find out how many times they take pets for walks, as well as their checking on their bathing rituals. Pets should also be trained to quickly accept community members and strangers, and there should be a locking system for each room so the animal cannot escape.
Even short visits from an animal can brighten a senior’s day. This is when a therapy dog can make a big difference. Therapy Dogs United provides programs and visits from its well-trained staff to places like schools and senior facilities. In a senior setting, a dog can be a pleasant distraction, while offering its unconditional love. They also give the elderly a chance to engage in physical movement.
Dogs4Diabetics.com offers insulin-dependent diabetics a medically trained and alert assistance dog that helps with tasks like pick up and carry objects, retrieve cordless phones, test breath for low blood sugar, and act as a brace to help a person up after having fallen down.
After all, an assisted-living home is more than a helping hand with cooking, cleaning and housekeeping. It’s a helping paw.