How To Incorporate Pet Therapy Into Your Senior Care Program

When creating a senior care program for your aging parents, you'll want to consider incorporating pet therapy. Paws for People reports that pet therapy benefits a patient's physical health by lowering blood pressure, releasing oxytocin that works to calm the individual, and reducing the amount of pain the person is suffering from. It also has emotional advantages as well, such as providing comfort, lessening depression, and getting rid of that feeling of loneliness. Below are the steps you'll need to take to add pet therapy to your loved one's schedule.

Obtain Approval First

Should your parent receive senior care services at home, you won't need to worry about getting approval. If, however, he or she resides at a nursing home or assisted living facility, you must first approach the team caring for your loved one to get permission to add the pet therapy. Most facilities allow this so you shouldn't have a problem, but a few places strictly forbid animals other than certified guide dogs. 

Find an Organization with Certified Therapy Dogs

There are multiple organizations that offer pet therapy services using dogs that have received the proper certifications. Start off by contacting your local Humane Society. If they don't offer the program themselves, they will most likely be able to direct you to a company that does. Always take the time to investigate the company and check any referrals before making a final decision.

Contact the Insurance Company

Next, you'll need to contact your loved one's insurance company to see if pet therapy is covered under their policy. In some cases, you'll simply need to obtain a letter from the senior's primary care doctor. Should the insurance deny coverage, search for a volunteer organization that provides this service. Seniors who have extra funds can simply opt to pay for the therapy sessions out of pocket. 

Arrange a Visit and Create a Schedule

Once you have decided on a company, you can invite the handler and therapy dog over for a visit. Watch how your loved one interacts with the pet to make sure it is a good fit. During the visit, the handler can suggest how often the therapy should take place and the duration of each visit. This can always be changed at a later date if need be. Finally, you can compare schedules with the handler to finalize the details and get the therapy under way. 

For more information on senior care, talk to a professional like Paramount Parks At Eagle.