Meet our new therapy puppy, Ella! Our residents have already fallen in love with her.

While petting a new puppy is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face, it can be especially meaningful for seniors. At AdamsPlace, pet therapy provides our residents with a wonderful opportunity to catch up, reach out and connect with staff and other residents. Even our shyest residents often show up to meet the therapy pets that come to visit!

Even though it doesn’t take a scientist to witness the joy a pet can bring to our seniors at AdamsPlace, we do love to have data to back us up. Pet therapy has long been known to provide physical benefits including lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, pain relief and increased physical activity. Pet therapy has also been proven to decrease anxiety, alleviate depression and feelings of loneliness, and help ease grief.

“Pet therapy has many physical benefits for our residents, but Recreation focuses on the psychological benefits it provides,” says Michelle Kuhnle, Recreation Director at AdamsPlace. “Pet therapy releases endorphins which promote calmness, reduce stress and bring pure joy to our residents. We have a few residents who actually release tears of joy while enjoying our therapy pets.”

In fact, just fifteen minutes bonding with an animal promotes these hormonal changes within the brain. For many residents, a few minutes with these furry bundles of joy can make a world of difference in their days, helping them come out of their shells and interact with staff, owners and the pets during visits. We love seeing the smiles that light up their faces as they interact with our volunteers like Ella.

In addition to the mood-boosting effects of pet therapy programs for all residents, studies show that they can be especially helpful to seniors with memory loss. Preliminary research demonstrates that pet therapy can decrease symptoms of Sundowners Syndrome, while increasing mood, appetite, and social interaction. It makes sense: when we gather around the pets, we often find ourselves more open to chatting with each other, as well, as our shared laughter fills the room.

As a result, we all look forward to visits from the trained pets and their owners who volunteer their time at AdamsPlace. They are always sure to capture our complete attention—engaging residents mentally and physically—and help lift our spirits with their gentle care and cheerful faces. We can’t wait to share more stories about Ella and her fellow volunteers with you!

See photos of some of our other pet therapy visits here.