If you’ve ever owned a pet, you’re probably already aware of the amazing ability of furry, feathered, and four-footed friends to make life better. In fact, a growing body of research points to the many health benefits of pet ownership for seniors.
While pets have always been welcome at Deupree House and Cottages, we’re delighted to announce the arrival of a new resident who is ensuring that all of our community members have access to the body- and soul-lifting company of canines: A labradoodle named Gigi Deupree.
Read on to learn more about how our first official Pet-in-Residence had tail-wagged her way into the hearts of everyone at Deupree House while making our community a happier and healthier place.
Pets & Positive Aging
Parentgiving.com recently took a closer look at the abundant evidence attesting to the positive impact of pets on senior health. Nearly 40 years ago, researchers in Brooklyn College’s Health and Nutrition Sciences department set out to determine the effects of pets on heart disease patients. Their results were eye-opening. Wrote Aaron Katcher, M.D., of the study’s outcomes, “The presence of a pet was the strongest social predictor of survival...not just for lonely or depressed people, but everyone—independent of marital status and access to social support from human beings.”
Since then, additional studies have confirmed the profound effect of pets, pet ownership, and pet-assisted therapy can have on older people. For starters, a whopping 82 percent of seniors say that owning a pet made them feel better when they were sad; 65 percent said petting their pets made them feel better; and 57 percent said they shared their fears and worries with their pets. With loneliness and isolation an increasing problem among seniors, the implications are monumental.
Furthermore, studies also show that seniors who spend time with pets enjoy a number of other health benefits, too, including lower blood pressure, stress relief, less depression, increased activity, a greater sense of worth, and greater security.
Given these findings, it’s hardly surprising that so many experts sing the praises of pet ownership for older adults. US News & Report determined that “residents exposed to pets consistently smiled more and became measurably more alert than those who did not encounter animals,” while the ASPCA advised that “quality time spent with an animal can be used to manage behavior, stimulate memory, encourage muscle groups to work in harmony, and much, much more.”
Meet Our Canine Companion
While many older adults enjoy enriched lives through pet ownership, not all seniors have the resources or capabilities to own and care for their own pets. Enter Deupree House’s “best of both worlds” alternative for retirement community living: the Pet-in-Residence concept and Gigi Deupree.
A gift to Deupree House from resident Pat Landen, Gigi belongs to every member of the community. As a result, every member of the community benefits from her cheerful presence. “I have always loved dogs. It was important to me that I give my friends at Deupree House and Cottages the gift of a resident dog…I feel happy knowing that part of my legacy here is our Deupree Resident dog,” said Landen.
But Landen’s generosity didn't end there. She also created an endowment to ensure that Deupree House community members will continue to have Pets-in-Residence for years to come.
According to Tracie Martella, Deupree’s Director of Nursing, Gigi is already changing the lives of everyone she meets for the better. “Gigi has a beautiful way of coming into a room and checking on everyone. Gigi gives love and affection to all of our residents here. And even people who might not be dog lovers are quickly fans of Gigi. She brings a smile to every person’s face,” said Martella. This includes Deupree House and Cottages staff, who report feeling like Gigi makes their workplace feel more like home.
Gigi Deupree is just one (wonderful) example of Deupree House’s commitment to supporting the holistic health and wellness of all of its community members. To learn more about Deupree House, or to take a virtual tour, we invite you to visit our website.