Did you know that seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less often than those who don’t? In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed dog owners had a 21 percent lower level of physician contact than non-owners.
Medication costs dropped from an average of $3.80 per patient per day to $1.18 per patient per day when nursing homes allowed for pets to be introduced into patient’s environments. Nursing homes in New York, Missouri and Texas were all used in the study.
I was first introduced to pet therapy in college. I volunteered with an organization that took dogs from the local shelter and brought them to a nearby assisted living facility. It was so much fun to sit with the seniors and listen to them tell me their life stories while we played with the dogs. It was also a great way to get the dogs out of the shelter for the day. It was what you call a win-win!
Today I took our dog Kaya to the Adult Day Health Center at the Durham Center for Senior Life. I was a little nervous at first because Kaya can be a barker, but she was a perfect angel! The seniors took turns holding her in their lap and petting her. My only regret was that it was just me and Kaya. I wish we had more dogs with us so all of the seniors would have the opportunity to pet a dog. I’ll be recruiting my friends with dogs to join me next time!