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Pet psychotherapy.

Man's best friend or feline can be another joy in a resident's day, according to those in the know.

One recent survey by Lakewood, Colo.-based American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) shows that 97 percent of pet owners smile at least once per day due to their pets.

In addition, 76 percent believe their pet eases their stress level, while 85 percent believe their pet is "concerned" when the owner is sick, according to the AAHA study.

Pet owners are also less likely to be sick, according to The Delta Society in Renton, Wash., a nonprofit organization that documents the positive effects animals have on human health.

For example, in a study of 100 Medicare patients, the most highly stressed dog owners had 21 percent fewer physician contacts than non-dog owners.

Pet owners also have lower blood pressure, lower triglyceride and lower cholesterol levels than non-owners, and seniors who own pets cope better with stress without entering the healthcare system, according to Delta's data.

In addition, medication costs dropped from an average of $380 per patient per day to $1.18 in nursing home facilities in New Yolk, Missouri and Texas, according to the data.

Dr Ghislaine Godenne, M.D., a Baltimore physician who specializes in rehabilitation (of humans), regularly takes along his Labrador, Ixelles, when he visits long term care facilities, Nursing home residents love the idea, according to Godenne.

Godenne said visits by pets in a retirement home or nursing home "help residents to bridge the present with the past. As they interact with [Ixelles], they start talking about the lives they had. They retrieve old photos of their pets, their families or their homes. They'll recall some long-forgotten anecdote--a memory that makes them smile."

Hallmark House Nursing Center in Pekin, Ill, also witnessed pet power when the facility acquired two new four legged residents in 2003. Funny Face and Spooky, two female cats, declawed and both one-year-old, have been adopted by the facility's human residents, according to Administrator Lynn Brady.

"They're adapting to life in the facility very well," Brady said. "The residents enjoy their antics and truly appreciate the benefits of having pets around."
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Title Annotation:Caregiving
Author:Naditz, Alan
Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:358
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