Assisted Living Care Homes in Gilbert, AZ.
The COVID 19 Pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all of our lives, but even more so for the elderly population many of which live in Assisted Living. I have witnessed this first hand in our own residents which have felt more isolated, fearful and depressed. The only saving grace for our residents during these unprecedented times, has been our house dogs Abby and Dude. I cannot tell you how many times the residents have let us know how grateful they are to have Abby and Dude around. Abby was adopted from previous resident who have since passed on. Dude joined the family when his owner unfortunately could no longer care for him.
As a nurse, I can tell you I have noticed a big impact on our resident’s mood, cognitive stimulation and overall quality of life, especially since the pandemic started. Residents are more willing to engage in activities, take less naps, there is an increase in their cognitive awareness, and they sleep and eat better. Residents also take great pride in making sure the dogs are well cared for. This includes taking the dogs out for walks when able. What is really amazing is the empathy the dogs can display when a resident is not feeling good. Often one of the dogs will go lie with them which gives the resident added comfort and relief.
We all know the effects stress can cause both mentally and physically, such as changes in appetite, sleep deprivation, depression, increased anxiety, stomach issues, and even increased physical pain. Of course COVID has only increased the stress for the residents living in assisted living. They notice the changes in routine, the changes in appearance, (people wearing masks), and most of all the decrease in visitations from both their loved ones and outside visitors.
It is during these extremely stressful and depressing times that pets truly come to the rescue. According to an article published by Pub med.gov a study on pet therapy revealed that geriatric depression symptoms decreased by 50%. It also showed that MMSE (Mini-mental state exam) revealed that pets increase a person’s perception of quality of life. The study concluded that pet therapy is efficient in improving depressive symptoms, cognitive function of residents in long term care facilities. But of course none of these scientific studies say it better than the smiles that our pets have brought to our resident’s face in spite of a pandemic going on all around us.