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The role pets play in our health and happiness

Have you ever noticed how snuggling and petting a dog, or giving a cat on your lap gentle strokes seems to create a sense of calm and wellbeing?  Turns out, there is a scientific reason behind these good vibe feelings.

According to an article in TIME magazine and a 2015 Harris poll, “95% of owners think of their animal as a member of the family. About half buy them birthday presents. And it’s a two-way street. People who have pets tend to have lower blood pressure, heart rate and heart-disease risk than those who don’t. Those health boons may come from the extra exercise that playing and walking require, and the stress relief of having a steady best friend on hand.

Scientists are now digging up evidence that animals can also help improve mental health, even for people with challenging disorders. Though the studies are small, the benefits are impressive enough that clinical settings are opening their doors to animal-assisted interventions–pet therapy, in other words–used alongside conventional medicine.

The rise of animal therapy is backed by increasingly serious science showing that social support–a proven antidote to anxiety and loneliness–can come on four legs, not just two. Animals of many types can help calm stress, fear and anxiety in young children, the elderly and everyone in between.”

That is why most Ebenezer locations welcome our furry friends along with their human counterparts to our senior living communities.  We have witnessed the joy a dog can bring to the face of an elder, even a nonverbal, expressionless dementia resident. They suddenly light up and reach out for the dog.  We have also seen animals bring together residents and help forge new friendships.  It is a common denominator that people love  – sharing funny and meaningful stories about their pets.  As long as pets are well behaved/good neighbors – they help bring life into all our Ebenezer homes.

Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.