Specialized Patient Therapies
Our volunteers and their volunteer pet therapy animals visit patients wherever they receive care (in their own homes, in assisted living and nursing homes). The difference we see in our patients is undeniable when they receive pet therapy, as the animals provide comfort and a sense of well-being.
Did-You-Know! The therapeutic use of pets has gained more attention and widespread acceptance as it continues to bring measurable benefits to all kinds of needs. It even has an acronym; HAI research (for human–animal interaction) is the study of the association between pet caregiving and physical and mental health.
Healthcare experts say that hospice patients are noticeably more active and responsive during and after animal visits. But hospice teams, patients families don’t need statistics and research to see that pets can bring about change that no amount of human intervention or medicine seems to accomplish. The benefits of pet visits include:
- Comfort care
- Bringing back memories
- Encourage activity
- Welcomed Distraction
- Providing unconditional love
The bond between pets and people has aided our patients in facing and dealing with many aspects of the dying process. The bond is unconditional and with that comes a freedom or empowerment for patients to be able to peacefully and comfortably discuss and resolve issues they are dealing with while their pet sits comfortably on their lap or at the bedside.
Throughout life, sound positively and negatively affects our physical and emotional well-being. It affects the bodily functions that we think are beyond our control. Such as heart rate, blood pressure and release of the body’s natural painkilling chemicals.
Even when people are no longer conscious or speaking, we can console and comfort them with music. Research has shown that music is the first outside sensation that registers with a developing fetus and the last that registers with a dying patient.
The use of music enhances our lives as a means of teaching, celebrating and expressing ourselves and has been in place for thousands of years. During World War II, music was used to calm shell-shocked soldiers. Since then, the introduction of music in a variety of rehabilitation and palliative care settings has steadily increased.
The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “…an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals of all ages.”
Because music is non-threatening, enjoyable and enhances brain function, people of diverse ages, backgrounds and abilities can gain therapeutic benefits through music therapy. When offered to those at the end of life, music therapy can bind with other healing efforts to address the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of hospice patients. While not appropriate for every hospice patient, music therapy can be surprisingly effective with an otherwise unresponsive patient.