Hospice provides comprehensive care that reaches beyond traditional medical interventions. Comfort care, social work, pain and symptom management, and alternative therapies are commonly part of the personalized care plan for a hospice patient. Pet therapy, an often-overlooked modality, provides emotional solace during end-of-life care, making the journey lighter for patients.
Pet therapy, also called animal-assisted therapy, can be incredibly beneficial for patients in their end-of-life journey. This form of therapy can:
- Enhance mood. Engaging with calm animals can often trigger the release endorphins (chemicals in the body that produce feelings of pleasure and pain relief). This can help lift patients’ mood when they are in distress.
- Provide emotional support. Hospice patients can experience feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. Animals can provide judgment-free companionship and unconditional love which help alleviate these feelings.
- Facilitate communication. Patients can openly talk with animals and express thoughts or feelings that they otherwise may keep inside. Expressing oneself – even when there is no verbal response or dialogue – is a helpful way to process emotions. Pet therapy animals can also provide a common topic to be discussed with caregivers, families, and friends, which further enhances communication.
- Benefit the patient physically. Hugging, petting, and otherwise interacting with animals has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate.
At Remembrance Hospice we have a dedicated, trained, and certified dog and handler to offer pet therapy. Jameson, a sweet Golden Retriever, has been a pet therapy dog for nearly two years. We have seen Jameson bring comfort and joy to many of our hospice patients and families. Some fun facts about Jameson:
- Age – 3
- Nicknames – “Jar Jar” and “Binks”
- Training – pet therapy and public access certified
- Enjoys – car rides, visiting patients, other pets, and sharing snacks with the staff at Remembrance
- Favorite color – purple
Pet therapy is not for everyone. Some patients are uncomfortable with animals or allergic to pets. In other cases, it may not be suitable for health or hygiene concerns. Pet therapy may be valuable as a part of an interdisciplinary approach to care. It is typically offered in conjunction with other therapies and treatment options. Ultimately, when integrated appropriately, pet therapy can benefit hospice patients, offering emotional support and improving quality of life. As a trusted hospice provider in Ohio, we have seen first-hand the benefits of pet therapy. Remembrance Hospice provides comfort care, palliative care, and hospice care in Medina, Ohio and surrounding communities. Feel free to give us a call to learn more about our services.