Lola, a pug, and Apollo, a Toy Fox Terrier, have been joining Hooverwood’s Unit 2A Manager Cheryl Perry at work, and they’ve quickly become two of our home’s most popular visitors.
“The residents just see them and a smile comes to their face,” says Cheryl. “Today we sat down on the couch with one of the residents, and she was petting the dogs, and they were just as content to be there with her as she was with them. We talked all about the dogs that she had; her house was never without a dog.”
For many of our residents, having a dog or a cat was a typical—and often beloved—part of their lives, so we’re always delighted when visitors volunteer to share their pets with us. As any animal lover knows, a home isn’t a home without a pet.
“You can tell who the true animal lovers are as soon as a pet walks into the room, because their faces just lights up,” says Cheryl.
In addition to the playful and sentimental value of pet visits, studies over the years have suggested a number of benefits to having pets in nursing homes. Cheryl is particularly familiar with studies conducted by The Eden Alternative, which found that pets in nursing homes contributed to a decrease in depression and an overall improvement in residents’ moods.
“We have a lady who doesn’t talk very much,” says Cheryl. “But we had the dogs in today, and when I saw her she said, ‘I saw two dogs up here today!’ She hardly ever says anything, but she was really excited to see Lola and Apollo.”
As long as owners bring paperwork showing their pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date, anyone may bring their pets to visit Hooverwood, although non-family members should first coordinate their visits with the front desk. Hooverwood recommends a few additional tips for furry visitors:
- Make sure your dog has good social skills, e.g., no growing, barking, jumping on people.
- If your pet is visiting for the first time, be prepared to keep the visit short. The new noises and smells of a new setting may overwhelm your pets and make them skittish. Let them adjust gradually over the course of a few visits.
- Not every resident is familiar with pets, so be prepared to identify which residents prefer not to be visited by an animal.
- Cats are allowed! Bring your cat in a carrier and coordinate with the staff to find a private room where the door can be shut.