Companion Animals

posted April 12th, 2016 by
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Companion Animals

Companion Animals benefit the residents of Leisure Village

by Kim Shoemake

Companion AnimalsAn elderly woman sits quietly watching a movie, occasionally nodding at a visitor or staff member as they pass. The pitter patter of paws on the floor distracts her from her thoughts. A smile slowly creeps across her face that could light up even the cloudiest of days. It’s as though the little dog has decided she’s on a mission. As she’s placed in the woman’s lap, it is obvious the two are smitten with one another. The gentle Maltese looks at her with eyes that could melt even the coldest hearts. It is moments like this one that make Jodi Lum, activities director at Leisure Village Healthcare Community in Tulsa, grateful to be a part of something that clearly gives her residents so much joy. “Animals have this innate ability to know who needs them the most. Our residents get so excited when they know the animals are coming for a visit.”
When it comes to treating the human body, doctors and nurses are fully aware
that the health of their patients is as much an issue of mental well being as it physical. In working with residents in skilled nursing facilities, this approach could not be more relevant. Studies show that regular interaction with animals has a therapeutic effect on seniors, in particular those who are separated from family. From lowering of blood pressure to elevated mood, the positive effects have been proven time and again by medical professionals who are often at a loss as to why animals have such a profoundly positive effect on the humans around them.
Companion AnimalsFor these reasons, Leisure Village partnered with the PAL program of the Tulsa SPCA to allow residents the opportunity to spend time with dogs, many of which are rescues of the organization. Debbie Atteberry, a volunteer with the PAL program for 14 years, first began working with seniors and animals because she wanted to do something with her dogs and help the community at the same time. She never imagined just how much she’d love it and still looks forward to going to see the residents. She’s not kidding herself though. She knows the real stars of the show are the dogs, who clearly love every bit of the attention lavished upon them. The PAL motto is “a lap is a terrible thing to waste.” The residents of Leisure Village are happy to ensure that never happens.

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