HARTFORD -- National Pet Month in May focuses on the benefits of bonding with a furry friend, especially for the elderly. Assisted Living Services in Meriden, has helped their clients through Animal Assisted Therapy for many years.
Sharon D'Aquila, Registered Pet Handler and President of Assisted Living Services and her therapy dog, Sonny joined FOX 61 Good Day Connecticut to talk about the benefits which include:
- Physically it lowers blood pressure, decreases the heart rate and lowers a persons stress
- Increases hormones associated with health and a feeling of well-being, including beta-endorphin, dopamine, and serotonin. Helps improve mood, makes people “feel better.”
- Increases level of fitness by providing stimulus for exercise, like walking the dog.
- Improves fine motor skills, standing balance, wheelchair and other physical skills. Even brushing sonny helps improve a persons range of motion by getting people moving.
- It has even been shown to improve appetite and adherence to a medical regimen.
- Decreases anxiety, including that from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Decreases depression, loneliness and feelings of isolation and even aggressive behaviors.
- Increases socialization including opportunities for laughter and a sense of happiness and well-being.
- Increases mental stimulation, attention skills, and verbal interactions.
- Increase spirit and self-esteem, enabling a patient to further participate in mental and physical therapy and to be more involved in group activities.