Pet Therapy: Proven Benefits in Overcoming Isolation

Pets are known to help their owners in unexpected ways, like calming the owner, fighting depression, lowering cholesterol and even helping to prevent heart attack and stroke.

It's no wonder more and more senior facilities like the Don Orione Home are introducing pet therapy to their rehab patients and long term care residents—and expanding those programs with a broader range of animals than in the past.

Therapy animals are used to promote health and healing for our patients and residents of any age or health condition, whether they are chronically ill, have long term disabilities, or are fighting the affects of feeling isolated and depressed.

It's a technique that we've observed clearly improves quality of life, and the Don Orione Home has had great success in administering pet therapy programs not only to our rehab patients and residents, but also to participants in our Adult Day Health Center programs.

The reasons behind this success are more scientific than most people think: Studies indicate that spending even a short time bonding with an animal—perhaps just 15 minutes or so—causes physiological changes in a person. The changes can include the stimulation of hormones that help reduce stress and give people a "feel-good" experience. It can be a powerful antidote to feelings of isolation, helplessness and depression.