Increasingly, pet-friendly senior living has become a sought-after option among retirement communities across the United States. It is no surprise, given that animal companionship has proven to improve seniors' health, reduce anxiety and depression, and even help seniors live longer lives.
"Holiday Retirement strives to provide the optimal environment for residents of our senior living communities, which is why we are dedicated to helping seniors connect with animals," said Harvey Brownlee, chief operating officer for Holiday Retirement. "The unconditional love an animal companion provides can help ease the transition into retirement living, provide ongoing companionship, and improve overall quality of life."
According to one of the earliest studies on pet therapy, spending time with animals helps increase longevity. A study published in 1980 showed that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who did not. More recently, a 2005 research project from UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles found that a 12-minute visit with dogs helped heart and lung function and decreased anxiety.
Here are four examples of the ways in which Holiday Retirement communities have connected their residents with therapeutic access to animals.
1. Cats and dogs may be considered the "usual suspects" as therapy pets, but for residents at Jordan Oaks in Cary, North Carolina, miniature horses provide smiles and a dose of nostalgia. Today's seniors often grew up in small towns or rural areas where riding horses was a common pastime; seeing and interacting with the miniature horses from Horse Hugs brings back special memories.
2. At Kittery Estates in Kittery, Maine, residents know firsthand how much a therapy dog can help increase socialization and minimize feelings of depression. Their weekly visits from Canine Companion Organization are filled with smiles and laughter. One resident even takes the opportunity to leave her wheelchair to sit on the floor with the dogs.
3. For residents of River's Edge in Savannah, Georgia, tropical birds make regular visits. Trained to be hands-on through "Wings of Joy," these birds are a welcomed treat for residents -- making themselves at home on seniors' shoulders and performing special tricks.
4. At Astor House at Springbrook Oaks in Newberg, Oregon, therapy pets come in all shapes and sizes. From miniature ponies to a black lab named Cherokee, residents truly enjoy the regular visits from these animal friends. Additionally, residents have made trips out to a small ranch in Oregon where they feed and pet the horses. "I love the smell of horse on my hands; I don't plan on washing my hands for a few days," says one resident.
"For seniors who have pets, we want them to be able to have experiences in our communities that benefit their quality of life," said Brownlee. "For those who do not have pets, therapy pets offer an alternative in which seniors can still get these benefits."
Holiday Retirement is dedicated to helping seniors in every living situation experience the benefits of pet companionship. If you or a loved one are interested in adopting a pet for a senior, visit holidaytouch.com/petsforseniors for a checklist, "Choosing the Perfect Pet for a Senior." The checklist offers advice and tips for choosing a senior-friendly pet. Additionally, an infographic, "The Pet Perspective," offers two- and four-legged friends' viewpoint on why seniors make the best owners.
About Holiday Retirement
Since 1971, Holiday Retirement has endeavored to provide its signature "Holiday Touch" to residents and their families. Today, Holiday is a trusted name in senior living and provides security, comfort, and value to independent seniors seeking a fulfilling lifestyle. Holiday operates more than 300 retirement communities, making it the second largest senior housing operator in the United States. For more information about Holiday Retirement, please call 800-322-0999 or visit www.holidaytouch.com.
Media Contacts: Brian K. Fawkes Holiday Retirement (971) 245-8837 [email protected] Molly Koch Communications Strategy Group (720) 726-5435 [email protected]
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