A TV appearance by a very special golden retriever has reinforced the many benefits that pets offer seniors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets can help decrease blood pressure along with levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. In addition, pets encourage seniors to spend time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, and they boost opportunities for needed socializing with others.
Gull Creek’s Furry Ambassador
No one knows the benefits of spending time with pets better than the residents here at Gull Creek, where the beloved golden retriever Trip came to work every day with her owner, Mari Bohall, our director of business development. Trip passed away in the spring of 2016 after a long career at Gull Creek.
During a recent appearance on “Delmarva Life,” Mari told the hosts that 9-year-old Trip began coming to work with Mari and “found her calling in life.”
“Trip came to Gull Creek with me every day, and her job there was to make everyone feel good,” Mari said, adding that the sweet-natured dog had free rein of the building and loved people of every age.
Significant Benefits for Residents
Mari said she sees incredible benefits for residents who interacted with Tripp at Gull Creek.
“It just changes their whole demeanor,” Mari said. “They are so in love, they were so taken with her, people that normally keep to themselves came out of their apartments just to interact with Trip.”
She said some residents would sit in the community’s lobby area for hours just to be near Trip. If a resident was having a bad day, Mari would often take Trip for a visit. The intuitive dog instinctively reacted to her location and the people around her, Mari said.
If Trip visited with dementia patients, for example, “she won’t go up to anyone if she wasn’t given permission.”
“If someone was having a bad day and was receptive to (Trip), it would turn them right around, because they were focused on Trip, not focused on what they were having anxiety about.”
Mari added that Gull Creek’s oldest resident, 105-year-old Edna, visited her office often to see Trip. She noted the gentleness of the dog with Edna and her instinct to not to get in her way as she walked.
Multiple Health Advantages for Seniors
Mari’s experience with Trip at Gull Creek closely mirrors research findings and expert opinions on the health benefits pets provide to seniors. In addition to clear advantages for physical health — including lowering blood pressure and regulating breathing — mental health also improves when seniors spend time with pets.
Dogs, cats and other beloved pets can help reduce depression and feelings of loneliness in seniors. And pets provide additional, intangible benefits, such as living in the present moment — which can help relieve an older adult’s anxiety about the future.
Mari says Trip also provided bonding and affection for the residents at Gull Creek. The residents appreciated Trip’s presence so much that the resident council voted in 2013 to recognize the golden retriever as “Her Highness, Princess Trip of Gull Creek.”
Mari has since adopted two new adopted Golden Retriever’s from same breeder as Trip. Their names? Happy and Mo.
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