Emotional well-being and physical well-being are closely linked. This fact seems self-evident. It makes sense that sick people recover faster if they are happy, comfortable, and free of pain. However, anyone who has spent time in a hospital will probably agree that patients’ emotional well-being often takes a back seat to raw science.
Some members of the nursing profession are working to make hospitals more pleasant for patients. An article in the May, 2008 issue of American Nurse Today points out one way to enhance patients’ emotional well-being: pet therapy. (Hat tip to Denie for passing along the article, which is written for nurses.)
By providing the benefits of human-animal interactions, pet therapy can promote a patient’s health and recovery. And you can use this creative intervention for patients in almost any setting–even patients who don’t have pets.
The article makes several points. First, the authors state that people who are hospitalized often worry about pets who are at home without anyone to care for them. The authors suggest that nurses help to confirm that the pets are being responsibly cared for. This leads to decreased stress and improved clinical condition in hospitalized humans.
The authors also recommend that, if possible, sick people should be allowed to visit with their pets. And they point out that people who don’t have pets often benefit from time spent with specially trained and certified therapy animals.
Finally, regular readers of this blog know that I love to talk about the health benefits that humans derive from their pets. (For instance, see here, here and here.) Therefore, I found the following boxed text in the article to be completely irresistible.
How pets improve our health. The benefits of pet companionship and interactions include:
less stress lower blood pressure lower cholesterol levels less cardiovascular disease reduced sense of loneliness increased socialization and reminiscences increased sense of responsibility and alertness increased physical activity improved overall health, leading to fewer doctor appointments increased fun!
The article discussed in this post was written by Charlotte McKenny, BSN, RN and Rebecca Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN.