Storm, a two-year-old, 60-pound black Labrador, has made herself at home with The Village at Rockville – A National Lutheran Community (TVAR) in Rockville, Md.* Her first week was spent training and learning the ropes with residents and staff since arriving May 16. Gifts of Hope, an alternative gift-giving program of the ELCA Metro D.C. Synod, made Storm’s addition possible, and Lee Hamilton of Man’s Best Friend Dog Training in Madison, Ohio, made her training possible.
“We are so excited that Storm is making her home here. We believe in the power of pet therapy and how that benefits not only seniors, but our staff too,” Susannah Brooks, director of resident services at TVAR said. “It is proven that pets help lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Whether you are nine or 90, who doesn’t need that?”
Numerous studies support the practice of pet therapy. A German and Australian study** followed 9,000 pet owners from 1996 to 2001. The study found that pet owners had fewer doctor’s visits, resulting in health care savings of over $3 billion dollars. The Journal of American Geriatric Society (Volume 2014) suggests that a care-taking role of an animal may give older individuals a sense of responsibility and purpose that contributes to their overall wellbeing. The Journal discovered that pet owners are better able to perform certain activities of daily living, such as the ability to bend, kneel, stoop, take medication, prepare meals, bathe and dress.
“Storm is one of many pets we are incorporating to help seniors thrive,” TVAR Executive Director Jason Gottschalk said. “We believe that Storm, and our other pets, increase the health benefits for our residents and staff. This is one of the many ways we cultivate an environment that empowers seniors to thrive in all dimensions of life.”
*This story is reprinted with permission almost in entirety from a press release from TVAR, “Taking Aging By Storm – Therapy Dog Joins The Village At Rockville” (5/24/16).
**Headey, Bruce; Grabka, Markus; Kelley, Jonathan; Reddy, Prasuna and Tseng, Yi-Ping. Pet Ownership is Good for Your Health and Saves Public Expenditure Too: Australian and German Longitudinal Evidence. Australian Social Monitor, Vol. 5, No. 4, Nov 2002: 93-99.