Finding a cherished companion
Three nurses sprung into action to find an elderly patient’s beloved pet, according to a Harrison Daily Times article published in February.
Molly Roy, director of nursing, Jordan Chaney, assistant director of nursing, and Amanda Chitsey, APN, at Mt. Vista Rehabilitation and Health in Harrison, Ark., went above and beyond the call of duty to reunite a lap dog named Houdini with her owner, Terry Leithiser, a resident at the facility. Leithiser had failing health, but regained vigor once her dog was placed in her arms, according to the article.
Because the dog was in a remote cabin that GPS couldn’t locate, the nurses had to enlist the help of the local police department. “It was literally a three-hour adventure,” Roy said in the article.
The flea-ridden dog was brought to a groomer and then delivered to the nursing home to the arms of Leithiser who hadn’t been able to eat or stand. “Immediately, Leithiser began to perk up,” the article stated.
“Everything about her is better,” Chitsey said about Leithiser in the article, which stated that the dog was “the best medicine she had ever been given.”
The benefits of pet therapy
According to The Guide to Pet-Friendly Assisted Living, a growing number of senior living facilities are open to pets living with their patients. “Traditionally, seniors have had to part with their cherished companions when they move to an assisted living community, which can be distressing to both senior and pet,” the guide stated. “But, this doesn’t have to be. An ever increasing number of assisted living communities allow pets, though sometimes with limitations on their number or size.”
Quoted in an article on the OurParents.com website, Helene King, a communications coordinator at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore, Md., talked about how a pet-friendly facility requires extra responsibility from a staff willing to commit.
“They have to take time to clean a litter box, walk a dog, feed a dog, go get the food for the dog,” Levinson said in the online article. “The pets are also really helpful for the staff. I just think having pets around makes you smile and relax.”
The nonprofit organization Paws for People based in Newark, Del. has been offering pet therapy since 2005. Among the physical health benefits from pets, the website stated “the act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, stabilizes blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke (and) improves cardiovascular health.” In addition, breathing slows in those who are anxious and hormones are released such as phenyl ethylamine, “which has the same effect as chocolate and diminishes overall physical pain,” according to the website.
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation lists numerous studies proving the benefits of pet therapy, one of which states, “Taking care of a pet can also serve as an alarm clock for elderly people,” reminding them to take care of themselves as well.
Read an article about the benefits of pet therapy: The benefits of horse play