It has been known since a long time ago that animals make great companions during happy and sad moments. Research proves that having a pet decreases stress and anxiety levels and significantly reduces blood pressure and heart rate. It has also shown to increase the amount of positive hormones in the body. Because of these benefits and many more, medical professionals are contemplating on utilizing animal therapy in hospice care.
Hospice care patients can tremendously benefit from spending time with dogs, cats and other animals that they can touch and cuddle with. Some of these patients attest that they are more relaxed and tend to forget about their mental and emotional problems. Some of them do turn to online psychologists, as they are more comfortable expressing their true feelings with someone they don’t see face to face and they can consult these psychologists at their own time.
The warmth of touch and cuddle makes so much difference to hospice care patients when they reach out to their pet. It actually validates that they are breathing and alive and loved. Unlike humans, pets don’t make them feel self-pity, as they do not know that hospice patients are ill and need to be given extra-care and attention. Also, their memories of Star or Buggy or Sophie will remain until their last days, keeping them smiling as they sit or lay on their beds.
Hospice patients who can walk can take their visiting pet out for a stroll to get exercise. If they’re living in their own homes, they can go with their pets and visit their close neighbors. If they’re in a facility, they would also feel more secure and comfortable walking around with their pets. Visiting animals have become popular in healthcare facilities around the United States, helping Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, pacifying them in their agitated moments and loving them in their lowest.
Hospice patients who have left their pets in their homes are sad and depressed. That is why they are overwhelmed with happiness when therapy dogs visit them in their facilities.
The Story of Buster
JJ is an experienced therapy dog that has comforted several patients, including those who suffered from the Seattle Pacific University shooting. He was able to care for a certain hospice patient, Mrs. Conway, who would light up every time Buster would come. She would hold her hand and touch her fur. Her vitals would rise a little when she sees the dog, and they say that Buster was the reason why Mrs. Conway lived a few more weeks. Buster was there beside her as she rested. They had quite a lot of memories together.
The Story of Boggles the Chihuahua
Boggles puts a smile on the faces of the Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in Brookdale. They have been requesting for her since she once came to visit as a pet therapy dog. Similarly, Boggles is all the more excited to be hugged and cuddled by her regular buddies at the facility. She is often brought there by her handler particularly when there are patients who are struggling to keep their last breath, and Boggles comforts them as they rest peacefully.
“It’s such an experience,” says Brookdale program coordinator. “There’s so much joy and laughter. Some patients can’t fully express how they feel, but you can see it in their eyes.”