The residents of Prospect Park Residence have learned that you’re never too old to make new friends. Members of the senior living community have developed a special bond with therapy dogs from the Brooklyn-based Good Dog Foundation. Each week trained therapy dogs spend quality time with seniors in the Residence’s Essentia program for memory impairment.
The seniors look forward to visits from their furry friends and enjoy the interaction. Essentia Program Coordinator, Olga De La Cruz describes the touch and warmth of the dogs as therapeutic for residents who are former pet owners. Others who were once afraid of dogs have opened up and now play with them. De La Cruz has even noticed that people who are normally very quiet or withdrawn become more open, converse with the dogs and their attitudes have become more positive.
The Good Dog Foundation is an advocate of animal assisted therapy and works with owners to help their pets become certified therapy dogs. The Foundation’s dog-and-owner teams make therapy visits to communities, hospitals and nursing homes throughout all five New York City boroughs. Studies have shown that pet therapy can decrease agitation, improve mood and enhance communication in seniors with memory impairment. Interaction with animals can also help reduce feelings of isolation in some people, and lower blood pressure and cardiac rate. Up next for the seniors at Prospect Park Residence is the Foundation’s annual dog fashion show scheduled to take place this October.