Zootherapy for Seniors

madame wouf wouf ownersHow can you resist a kitten’s cute face, a dog’s friendship, the softness of a rabbit’s fur or the silliness of a ferret?

Where does the inner peace from the “magic “ of bonding with an animal come from? The answer is simple: animals do not judge! This is the basis of zootherapy.

Let’s clarify what zootherapy is … it is a helping relationship, which provides benefits on many different levels (cognitively, emotionally, physically or psychologically). The key is to find the animal that is best-suited for each clients' needs.

Each week, whether an individual remembers us or not, their smiling faces show the emotional impact we left with them. We are so grateful to be able to offer the benefits of zootherapy to many seniors on a regular basis. Each week we witness small victories! There is nothing that makes us happier then when our animals create little miracles.

elderly with a dog, zootherapyFor example, Mrs L. fell last winter, broke her clavicle and did not want to attend physiotherapy at all. Gradually and playfully, we succeeded to motivate her to do her exercises through activities such as giving treats to a dog, brushing an animal and throwing a ball.

Then there is M. C., who was not ready to move into a retirement home. He isolated himself and was constantly mad at everybody. When we visited him, we encouraged him to come out of his room to take a walk with the animals. It made him socialize with others and he gradually accepted the changes in his life.

There is also Mrs T., (AKA the cat lady), in palliative care. She loves cats, she reads about them, she has posters and pictures of them everywhere in her room. Bringing her a cat allows her to experience her passion, and has helped with her end-of-life anxiety. Our visits even have a positive impact on her blood pressure!

elderly with a cat, zootherapyMrs D. suffers from Alzheimer's disease and was a great chef. Asking her if she would enjoy baking cookies for our cats and dogs has given her a huge drive. A simple recipe keeps her working on her memory, her fine-motor skills, increases her self-esteem and her motivation.

Mrs. G. did not feel well when we arrived. She constantly stared at the ceiling and did not react to anything. When we visited her we placed Boris the ferret on her bed and he laid down on her and patiently waited. Slowly her hand began to pet him. After 20 minutes, she “woke up”, looked at us and said, “I love you”. She then sat up, started talking with us and decided to walk Boris in the hallway. When we ended the visit, she was alert and had decided to have her snacks with the other individuals who live in her residence. Breaking isolation is a fundamental objective of ours.

The beauty in zootherapy is its multidisciplinary aspect and the possibilities to adapt every relationship we have with our seniors according to their needs and interests, all while respecting each and everyone’s pace. A qualified zootherapist can properly accompany people in need. Seniors seek a hand to hold, an ear to listen and a compassionate heart to understand them. Our animals are instant icebreakers and help us create a therapeutic relationship with individuals. As professionals, we help seniors by listening, supporting and by accompanying them with respect and positivity.

See zootherapy in action, presented by the company Madame Wouf Wouf:

logo for zootherapy madame wouf wouf

Note: This information is for informative purposes only. Always check with a medical professional.


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