A number of scientific studies have shown the use of pet therapy has a measurable positive impact on heart rate, blood pressure and depression and anxiety, particularly among the elderly.
As a result, senior living facilities are increasingly integrating pets into their enrichment activities for residents.
Pets Helping People Inc., a nonprofit that helps dog owners train their pets for visits to the elderly, is even based within a senior living facility, Congregational Home in Brookfield.
“Our primary focus is to assess and to train owners and their dogs to go out into the community,” said Amy Dodge, executive director of Pets Helping People. “We have our 20th year this year. Each year, we graduate probably between 30 and 40 handler teams.”
Congregational Home has assisted living, independent living and memory care wings, and Pets Helping People does its training throughout the residential community, Dodge said.