Does pet therapy help treat loneliness in the elderly?

In numerous studies, loneliness (especially in the elderly) has been shown to have a significant impact on an individual's health and wellness in addition to their feeling valued or loved. Relationships with pets has increased dramatically over the last 10 years in the U.S. Pets can eliminate the sense of being "alone" or lonely and have proven to have healing effects on individuals of all ages and all stages of illness. Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities now use "therapy" dogs that visit the residents and give them the unconditional caring that animals often seem to do better than other humans.

Even our relationships with plants can help us to feel less alone and caring for them provides a sense of purposeful work and fulfillment. In one study, nursing home residents were given house plants to care for versus those who were given plants but did not care for them. The study showed that having a relationship with the plant as well as a sense of purpose by taking care of the plant, made a significant change in the resident's health index and vital signs, which includes blood pressure and pulse and sleep. For more information on the topic of relationships and health, get a free download at

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.