Monday, February 22, 2016

The Positive Efffect of Pets

Pets matter.  They make our lives richer.  Pets can play a unique role in our lives, providing unconditional love, reducing anxiety, and releasing stress.  If you’ve been wondering about getting a pet during your caregiver journey, consider that science supports pets as providing a calming, balancing, and enjoyable relationship.  

Those in the healing arts know that pets make a positive physical and psychological difference for many.  For decades, retirement homes, cancer wards, rehab centers, and children’s hospitals are just a few venues where animal visits are the highlight of the week and eagerly anticipated.  The simple act of petting an animal can rapidly reduce stress and promote calm.  Soothing.  Comforting.  Pets are often cherished.

Sweet girl - protective & wise
We’ll stick here to the common dog and cat pet choices.   You’ll hear people express they are a “dog person”, or a “cat person” for a variety of reasons, but both can make wonderful pets.  Dogs have a wonderful ability to “read” your moods, understand certain words, provide comfort and a canniness to read your mind when you need a non-judgmental guide to listen to you mull over a problem. Cats also sense your moods, will sleep trustingly even as you talk to them, and purr as they curl beside you. When you need an extra measure of hope, warmth, and kindness, cats are low maintenance and exercise on their own.  Most dogs and cats are social animals and want to be around people and follow you everywhere if you’ll let them.

No matter your animal preference, talking with such a great listener who doesn’t interrupt you, doesn’t judge you, and who is always there for you means a lot.  Another benefit to a pet is that taking care of something else takes you outside yourself.  This animal needs you, and can create a routine interaction that automatically helps with reducing depression and lowering anxiety.  Walking a dog gets you out of the house at least twice a day, providing exercise and socialization, sparking conversation. Pets energize you, make you laugh out loud and can bridge loneliness and isolation. Facebook is filled with silly home videos of pets with thousands of views; they fill a need in our souls. 
A purring machine & cuddler

Animals are genuine, they don’t gossip, they rely upon you while giving you stress relief, laughter, empathy, companionship, and unconditional love.  There is great power in pets, so go ahead, talk to your animals, they’ll love you all the more – and it’s great therapy without an appointment and immediate.  Consider THAT for a moment…

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team

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