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Mental health in seniors is a critical topic of importance. Loneliness and depression are associated with an increased risk of chronic disease and even death in seniors. For many older adults, pets help to mitigate that loneliness, and they can have a profound impact on both quality of life and physical health. Specifically, pet therapy in senior living communities can help begin, enhance, or continue the positive effects of animals on the lives of seniors. 


There is an undeniable link between animals and wellness in seniors.

Whether you grew up with animals or you simply enjoy the company of other people’s pets, it’s hard to ignore the innate ability of animals and pets to make us smile. And it’s impossible to ignore those health risks and benefits we mentioned earlier in this post. Within senior living communities, there are frequent opportunities to engage in time with pets, or opportunities to participate in pet therapies and activities designed for their positive impact on wellness. 

There are several ways some senior living communities have to integrate pet therapy into the lives of their residents, including: 

1. Allowing residents to bring pets.

Although not a formal therapy, many consider daily life with their pets to be a form of therapy. Having a cat curl up in your lap or taking your dog for a walk can be extremely therapeutic. Bringing your pet(s) with you to your new senior living community is a foregone conclusion for many seniors. 

In fact, when new residents bring their pets, those pets also become residents of their owners’ new senior living community! Oftentimes, neighbors and others in the community become friends with their “neighborhood” dogs and cats. So, not only are you benefitting from the company of your pets, your neighbors are as well! 

2. Housing emotional support animals (ESAs) for residents.

Instead of, or in addition to, allowing residents to bring their pets with them, many senior living communities also have their own emotional support animals or ESAs. These animals may reside permanently in the senior living community or may be brought in by outside guests at a regular interval. 

These animals are specially trained as mental health companions and tend to be very low-key, docile dogs and cats that enjoy a good cuddle, chin scratch, or light game of fetch. 

There’s a power in seeing a beloved animal come through the door - it affects all of us, and not just older adults. We immediately smile when an animal comes in the door!  In senior living communities that house or support ESAs, there are many smiles among residents, visitors, and staff! 

3. Inviting formal pet therapy for recuperative residents.

Pet therapy from ESAs and resident pets is very powerful, but there is another form of pet therapy that involves animal-assisted activities along with a registered professional (AAT). Psychotherapists, occupational, speech, and physical therapists may all also use AAT to help patients with recovery or treatment. 

This can be especially powerful for recuperative guests, like those who stay here at Veranda of Pensacola. After a medical event or procedure, there is some research that suggests animal-assisted therapy can help speed up recovery. If your or your loved one’s doctor suggests animal-assisted therapy as part of their recuperative journey, be sure to discuss it with your designated senior living community to learn more about how they can support this type of therapy. 


Choosing the right senior living community can have a powerful impact on your health.

The right senior living community provides support for your physical, mental, and emotional needs. Through our extensive amenities, activities, and resident lifestyles, Veranda of Pensacola strives to provide a truly resort-like living experience for our residents. To talk about your needs and learn more about life at Veranda, contact our team today

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