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Pet Therapy has Positive Impact at Senior Living Community
The Pines of Mount Lebanon Residents Benefit from Interaction with Puppy
Actually, Buddy is a 1-year-old Morkie Poodle. The lovable white puppy with black spots and black ears quickly made an impression as part of a pet therapy program held in conjunction with Pinnacle Palliative Care in Pittsburgh.
"Many residents have had their own pets when growing up or when they were raising a family. When pets come to the community, it brings back many fond memories," said Shelly Hyde, LifeStages Director at The Pines. "The benefits of pet therapy bring a sense of joy."
Pet therapy, sometimes referred to as animal assisted therapy, uses animals such as Buddy to interact with seniors to improve their quality of life. Studies have shown that spending even 15 minutes bonding with an animal may promote hormonal changes in the brain.
The bond between people and their pets may increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Researchers said some of the health benefits of having a pet may include decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness and increased opportunities for socialization.
"Buddy loves the seniors as much as they love him," said Jill Conroy of Pinnacle Palliative Care. Conroy brought Buddy to the senior living community and introduced the puppy to the residents and team members.
"Buddy really brings so much joy to the seniors all over and I think it brings back a lot of memories for them as to when they had pets," Conroy said. "Pet therapy is one of the most rewarding programs. It can help with those who are feeling isolated, and it may help manage anxiety, loneliness and depression."
Residents had an opportunity to pet and interact with the puppy throughout the visit. Hyde said the smiles on the seniors' faces revealed the impact a few moments with Buddy had on them.
"We do have some family members that bring their dogs for visits. The residents love seeing them and giving them some love," said Autumn Metzmaier, Executive Operations Officer at The Pines of Mount Lebanon. "This visit by Buddy was even more special because Buddy visited residents throughout the community and really brought joy to our building."
Any animals brought to The Pines of Mount Lebanon must meet certain standards. "The animals are required to have their current vaccinations and any shots," Metzmaier said. "We have that information on file. As of now, we do not have a regular schedule of when pets such as Buddy will visit The Pines again, but his appearance certainly was a big hit."
Shelly Hyde, LifeStages Director
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