Loneliness can often be something that aged care residents and rescue animals have in common. Both may find themselves in places where they are “abandoned”, with limited love and warmth from a family to love them.
But this common bond may be something they could benefit from each other.
The bond that animals and the elderly share is a truly heartwarming one, and something that is cherished in both the resident and the animal.
Freedom Aged Care Tanah Merah residents have had some special and very cute visitors over the last couple of months; rescue animals from the RSPCA shelter in Queensland at Wacol, as part of their Happy Paws Happy Hearts program.
The emotional and physical benefits of having a pet in our later lives are well documented, and of course a loyal, furry or feathered friend can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Pets are encouraged at Freedom Aged Care, with small animals welcome to stay with our residents at most of our communities.
The Happy Paws Happy Hearts sessions with our residents encourages them to cuddle, pat and play with the animals and reminisce with each other about their past and pets they once owned.
It can help residents with dementia or sight complications through touch and improving their mood, or simply coax someone outside and help them feel more connected to their community.
The rescue animals who visit are awaiting adoption and benefit from the short visits with our residents. It gives the animals time away from the shelter environment and helps to socialise them, increasing their chance of being adopted. So far, we have had mature dogs and puppies visit, all of whom have found their new forever homes since their visits.
RSPCA shelters are often at capacity this time of year, and rely on the support of the community during busy times. One way the community can help is participating in the Happy Paws Happy Hearts program, donating to the HPHH foundation, or adopting through their local RSPCA shelter.
Freedom Aged Care residents will continue to welcome the rescue animals into 2018, with another visit planned for January. In February, the residents will visit the Wacol shelter, to have morning tea and cuddle a variety of rescue animals such as kittens and guinea pigs.
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