"The Healing Power of Pets"
Lorena Wild was very lonely and depressed. She was on depression medication and was also taking injections weekly from her doctor.
There were days she wouldn't take her regular medication because she really didn't care. Even though she had four children who visited her, they all had their own lives and were involved with their own families. Lorena was just very lonely. She needed someone she could put her arms around and hug. She needed someone who needed her.
Marvin, her oldest son, calls her every night, and when he could, he would take her places, but in the summer months he lives and works in Wyoming. He worried about his mother very much, so he was very happy when Otto came into her life.
Dr. Gordon Vogel, Lorena's doctor, told her she needed to get a pet for companionship. Lorena called Linda Hutchison at Precious Friends for help. Linda started looking for the right dog for her. It took about four months, but one day little Otto came into the program, and Linda knew he was the one. She had him neutered, vet checked, and up dated. She took him to her house to make sure he was house broken. Two weeks later he was ready to meet Lorena.
They were made for each other. She was able to stop her medication and injections for depression, because she now had someone who needed her. She had hip surgery and had to go into a nursing home for therapy. She promised herself and Otto that she would do her best so she could come back home to her baby, and she did.
Instead of the six to eight weeks, she was able to come home in three weeks and finish her therapy there. Otto stayed with Linda and he was sure happy to return to the one he loved.
Otto is so understanding of Lorena's needs. He knows where to walk, so he doesn't trip her when she's walking with her walker or her cane. They are a true blessing for each other.
Many researchers are finding that the most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease- it's loneliness. It may sound more like a poetic image than an overwhelming medical reality, but people die of broken hearts. Love is the most important health tonic we have, and pets are one of nature's best sources of love.
Dogs and cats help everyone overcome pain of loneliness by supplying companionship and affection. For anyone who is consistently left alone, pets can also supply a sense of security and protection. Pets can make you laugh and divert your mind away from troubles. They also broaden your circle of friends and encourage good health through exerscise. Studies show that pets can aid in relaxation, lower one's blood pressure, promote health, and prolong life. They help us unwind. Nurtured by the affectionate attention of pets, stress and anxiety are eased. Anyone who ever bonded with a pet will confirm the value of a pet.
Many of your medical providers know that if you suffer from heart disease or stress, a cuddle a day may keep the doctor away. But if hugs are hard to come by, the next best thing may be a dog or a cat in the lap.
Many elderly and lonely individuals have discovered that pets satisfy their needs and enable them to hold onto the world of reality, of care, of human toil and sacrifice, and of intense emotional relationships. Their self-concept as worthwhile individuals is restored and even enhanced when they find that the pet they have been caring for, loves them in return.
According to a study in the International Journal of Aging and Human Development, many elderly Americans think having a pet is more important than moving into a convenient place to live where pets aren't allowed. Unfortunately, some elderly, who live in a federally assisted facility are unaware that it's against the law to discriminate against pet owners. The good news is that tolerance for pets in elderly housing facilities is increasing and all states now allow pets in nursing homes.
Patients in hospitals or nursing homes who have regular visits from their pets have shown to be more receptive to treatment. Their pets bring love and acceptance that boosts self-esteem and helps give the patient the incentive to recover and the will to live. Animal programs in nursing homes increased self-care activity and mobility; residents "came alive", their spirits lifted. Depressed patients who were unwillling to work regain lost skills resulting from a stroke- when given a pet to play with- began to smile and cooperate with therapists. Those who have Alzheimer's disease may experieance loneliness and emotional isolation. A pet is always there, eager to please, no matter what the person's state.
Some pet programs at nursing homes are credited with enabling patients to reach out beyond their own pain and isolation and start caring about the world around them once again. A lot of these patients have many losses, personal as well as some physical health problems. It's important for them to have something like a puppy that's so accepting, that doesn't care if you're in a wheelchair or if you can't walk, or if you've had an amputation. The puppy loves everybody and it means a lot to the patients.
Many studies also show that pets are psychologically important to the elderly, as they help stimulate socialization by providing a topic of conversation with others where stories of happy moments with pets are shared. When people talk to people, blood pressure tends to go up because we always wonder how the other person's evaluating us. With pets, it's really quite different.
For an older person, whose wife or husband has died, a pet may be the only being that they can touch and cuddle and talk to, giving them that kind of feeling of intimacy which is so important for human existence. A pet can help us cope not only with the loss of a loved one but help us adapt to changing circumstances such as an illness or a change in living arrangements.
Info. from 'Senior's Site'