A former stray lovingly referred to as Oreo, has found a new home at St. Augustine Health Ministries, a nonprofit organization in Cleveland, Ohio that provides assisted living, home health care, and nursing among other services. They already have a dog named Coco who lives at the facility, and now he has a friend.
According to Dana Carns, Director of Advancement for St. Augustine Health Ministries, “They both give residents something to look for, to care about, to love on.” Several years ago, Oreo, a black and white feline, wandered into the nursing home and found her way into the hearts of staff and residents alike. “Oreo found us,” Carns stated. Now Oreo and Coco have an important role in improving the lives of residents.
Valued Members of the Team
Although Coco is a valued member of the team, Oreo outshines her furry counterpart in many ways. Oreo often greets visitors and takes it upon herself to provide love, comfort, and entertainment where she sees fit.
She is not a lap cat but “she loves to have her head scratched,” Carns explained to the Huffington Post. “Residents, staff and the children from our early learning centre look for Oreo,” she added. “Oreo is just another example of the love you often find in a home.”
Oreo is sometimes found lounging about but has an important role to play when it comes to the well-being of our residents.
Carns noted that there are times when residents bring their own pets with them to the campus. It does not often work out, however, because it is difficult for most of the animals to adjust to the new, busy environment.
Carns added that it is hard for some residents to take care of an animal on their own. Oreo and Coco are a welcomed alternative for residents who want to have pets but cannot take care of them. Pets are becoming more and more common in nursing homes and similar facilities. “I’m not sure if Oreo was in need of us or we were in need of Oreo,“ Carns said. “But she’s a great addition to the family.”
Animals are Therapeutic
It is not uncommon for residents in nursing home facilities to experience loneliness, depression, and anxiety, among mental health issues. These feelings often result from the loss of their independence and declining overall health.
Oreo and Coco play a special part in alleviating some of these conditions. Most would agree that pets are great companions, but pets provide more than just companionship for the elderly and disabled. Healthcare professionals have taken notice of the many benefits that pet companions provide. They have noted that pets can:
Pets provide companionship without judgment. We can share our worries and express our feelings with our pets without fear of ridicule or rejection. They motivate us to exercise by playing with them and taking them for walks. Even if the activity is minimal, it can be more than some people would be willing to do otherwise. A desire to congregate and socialize with our pets, in turn, brings people together.
Animals are Good for Your Well-Being
Research shows that when we are near our pets, our body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which lowers our blood pressure and relieves stress, which makes us feel happy. Pets are a positive distraction from worry and depression that can plague people with chronic illness. Interestingly, the vibration cats make can promote wound healing and bone growth as well as reduce pain and swelling.
Other studies indicate that pets have a positive effect on memory stimulation and anxiety reduction too, particularly, in those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
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