Pet Therapy for Veterans and Other Seniors

 
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With Veterans Day only a few days away, most people will take a few minutes to remember the sacrifices that seniors made for us. What we don’t realize, however, is the lasting psychological consequences that seniors have to live with, and how it affects them on a daily basis. Something small, like visiting them with a licensed therapy dog, can make a huge difference in their mood and affect.

Therapy Dogs

Millions of Americans currently serve in the military. The only difference between these men and women and the men and women who fought for our country before is a couple of generations in between. Each person, both then and now, had to endure trials that would make the average person blink in shock, and has had to endure it stoically in the name of being a “strong soldier”. However, animal rescue organizations are giving veterans a paw up.

Guardians of Rescue, an animal rescue based in Smithtown, NY, recently traveled to Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Rankins in Culpeper, VA to give him a therapy German Shepherd. Although not a senior, Rankins is a younger version of your mother or father, having served in the Marines and completed a tour each in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is 100% disabled, having suffered from PTSD, a combat injury and a traumatic brain injury- the same that seniors endured previously but at a time when no names were available to label them. The benefits of a therapy dog are numerous: at its basest, dogs provide a calming influence that can help distract the veteran from their ills; on a more complex level, therapy dogs help veterans learn how to cope despite the disabling effects of brain injuries.

ASPCA

On November 21, 2013, the ASPCA will hold its annual Humane Awards Luncheon where they’ll honor a group of outstanding animals and people for the positive and lasting impacts they’ve made throughout the last year. One of the award recipients is Koshka, a cat who kept company with Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott at a base in southern Afghanistan during a suicide bomber attack nearby that killed two of his friends. Without saying a word, Koshka provided the kind of comfort and therapy that only animals can, helping Knott get through a particularly dark time.

Pet Therapy for Your Senior

If your senior isn’t allergic to cats or dogs, bringing them a therapy animal can be one of the most beneficial ways to help prolong their cognitive and emotional functions. It may require a bit of co-ordination to secure such an animal, but there are plenty of organizations in the United States ready to assist you with it. And with Veterans Day coming soon, keep your senior and his or her health in mind, and bring them an animal that’ll doubtlessly do wonders for them.