Man’s Best Friend Makes the Perfect Hospice Partner
Man’s best friend has always been by our side. In a medical setting, the use of pets dates back more than 150 years ago. In fact, in the 19th century, Florence Nightingale, one of the founders of modern nursing recognized that animals helped provide emotional support during end of life and hospice care. Since then, studies have proved her findings, determining that dogs are great companions that provide physical and mental benefits as well as comfort during the end-of-life voyage.
Physical Benefits of Hospice Dogs
Studies have shown that dogs have the ability to heal the body. In South Carolina, 14.3% of patients in hospice care have been diagnosed with heart problems or stroke, which can be caused, triggered, or aggravated by high blood pressure. According to research, dog owners typically have lower blood pressure than non-dog owners and are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Heart attack survivors and people with abnormal heart rhythms also tend to live longer when they have a four-legged pal. This is because petting a dog releases a relaxation hormone that cuts down on stress and lowers blood pressure.
Mental Benefits of Hospice Dogs
Dogs in the hospice care environment can also help to soothe the mind and provide emotional support during a critical time. They can reduce feelings of depression, lower levels of anxiety, reduce stress, and promote positive self-esteem. According to a study published in Clinical Care and Aging, dementia patients that participated in a 10-week pet therapy session experienced a slowing in the progression of dementia-related symptoms. This is extremely beneficial since 13.2% of patients in South Carolina hospice care suffer from dementia.
Providing Comfort for Your Loved Ones
Having a dog close to one’s heart provides patients with a relaxing presence during their end-of-life journey. Dogs can help ease loneliness in hospitals as they provide patients with a reliable friend to help them through any situation. They are also social magnets that help to bring in other patients, nurses, and visitors so that your loved one always has someone to talk to. Furthermore, dogs can help generate a routine. As dogs love adventures and the great outdoors, they encourage hospice patients to go outside and explore. This can provide amazing experiences during sad experiences and can brighten anyone’s day. It also provides routine for dementia patients and timed outings and feedings can help them remember their day and schedule.
Choosing the Right Dog
Typically, there is no certain breed or size of dog that makes for the perfect therapy pet. However, they do need to be well-behaved, mild-mannered and friendly with elderly patients. Dogs that spend time in hospitals experience many unfamiliar sounds and scents, and therefore not every four-legged pal is suited for the journey. You should be sure to find a dog that is at least one year or older, calm around strange situations, clean, walks well on a leash, listens to its handler, and can be around other people and areas without having to mark its territory or get too excited.
Dogs are known as man’s best friend and they are definitely there until the end. Having Fido join you or your loved one during hospice care can help ease the journey and provide amazing physical and mental health benefits.