On visits to senior facilities, we encourage socialization and conversation, hoping to stimulate intellect and memory, provide entertainment and fulfill tactile needs. Reminiscing about a long ago pet, conversing with a fellow animal-lover or getting some serious "fur therapy" helps to brighten the day.
In a rehabilitation program, therapists utilize the pets in activities designed to attain specific goals such as: increasing range of motion, strengthening eye-hand coordination, building muscle tone and enhancing mobility. Introducing animals into the prescribed exercises often increases focus on the activity, motivates participation and can offer reward in the form of returned tennis balls or the ever popular doggie kiss.
For hospitalized children, the animals help alleviate anxiety. They can offer diversion, entertainment or reassurance. And they certainly can bring a smile or giggle to an unhappy face.