Pet Visits Help Hospice Patients

During hospice care, the clinical staff works collaboratively to create the most comfortable environment possible for Niagara County residents and their families and caregivers. In addition to the physical, emotional and spiritual care, a supplemental therapy that is available to patients is weekly pet visits.
   Throughout the 15-year history of Hospice House, volunteers have brought pets into the facility to increase the joy, happiness and comfort of our patients and families. Recently, volunteers were able to resume pet visits once a week, and four dogs returned to service, including Boo pictured above. 

   These pet visits have proven to benefit patients, families and even staff. Dogs offer a comfort and companionship unlike any other. It has been proven that they reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, as well as increase mental alertness and attention skills of patients.
   Non-verbal patients have even opened their eyes, laughed or made noises, and they have pet the dogs during visits. Some patients always had animals in their home, and now when they are without them, it can cause some depression. Pet visits help decrease depression levels and bring the patients back a piece of the loving companionship they had before.
   Patient families also experience a sense of joy during these visits, knowing their loved one is happy. Not only do the dogs offer them comfort, but they see how the patients react to them. Patients often exude great joy from the visits, improving their mood and reducing stress.
   Even our staff feels the benefits from pet visits. When nurses, aides and counselors work closely with patients, creating a memorable bond between them. Seeing patients decline during their care is very difficult, and the pet visits are able to lift their spirits and provide comfort during challenging days.

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