The bonds we create with animals are powerful. That’s why, all over the world, healthcare professionals are encouraging what is known as ‘animal-assisted therapy’ in care settings.
Animal-assisted therapy is a therapeutic intervention that involves animals, in order to enhance and complement the benefits of traditional therapy.
What are the benefits?
For Mental Health:
- The simple act of petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response.
- Humans interacting with animals have found that petting the animal promoted the release of serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin- all hormones that can play a part in elevating moods.
- Lowers anxiety and helps people relax.
- Provides comfort.
- Reduces loneliness.
- Increases mental stimulation.
- Can provide an escape or happy distraction.
- Can act as catalysts in the therapy process.
For Physical Health:
- Lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health.
- Reduces the number of medications some people need.
- Breathing slows in those who are anxious.
- Releases many hormones such as Phenylethylamine which has the same effect as chocolate.
- Diminishes overall physical pain.
- Relax more during exercise.
Recently, our residents enjoyed a visit from some very friendly llamas – who were a real hit! You can see the photographs, below.