Pals For Life brings cuddly pets to the residents of nursing homes, memory-car facilities, mental health centers, hospitals, group homes, and disability day programs. Interacting with our therapy animals provides the following benefits:
- Encourages physical mobility. Pals For Life pets will often visit patients who are having challenges with physical therapy or have limited desire to exercise their muscles. The pets provide a fun and motivating reason to use their muscles through holding, petting and playing with the animals.
- Provides sensory stimulation. Many of the residents we visit have vision loss, hearing loss and other sensory losses, which makes interacting with the soft fur of animal a powerful and pleasurable benefit. So many times they break into a smile as they feel something pleasurable for the first time in months.
- Improves memory clarity. Interacting with Pals For Life pets will often trigger memories of the residents’ own beloved pets. Recalling these memories can be a great exercise for the brain. An enjoyable aspect for our human volunteers is to hear the hilarious stories these residents tell of their own pet’s antics from years past.
- Increases opportunities for socialization and fun. Residents often emerge from their bedrooms for the first time in weeks when they hear that animals are visiting. Before you know it they are telling everyone about the pets they used to have, and making new friends. At a mental health facility, a patient looked up from petting the rabbit and exclaimed, “I just realized that I haven’t been thinking about my problems these last 10 minutes. I know it won’t last, but it was nice to have a break.”
- Provide comfort. Hugging a dog provides comfort like little else can. Our animals have comforted teenagers dealing with eating disorders, children dealing with difficult family situations, and isolated individuals struggling with loneliness.
Pet Visits can take place in either a group setting, or visiting individual residents in their bedrooms. All visits are one hour in length. For the patients and residents we visit, it makes their day to experience the wagging tails, enthusiastic greetings and amusing antics of their furry visitors.