Baby animals bring joy to AgeWell residents

animal therapy at agewellEveryone loves to cuddle a baby animal, and seniors at Uniting AgeWell’s Condare Court are no different.

Baby chicks, lambs, calves, goats and rabbits strutted their stuff at the newly refurbished Camberwell site on April 11 for an afternoon of fun and interaction. The visitors came from Animals on the Move, a mobile farmyard that runs educational and pet therapy programs.

Helen Page, Condare Court’s manager of integrated services, said the animal visit was part of AgeWell’s sensory activity program for people with dementia.

“Research shows there are many therapeutic benefits with animal-assisted therapy or activities. They can reduce anxiety and improve self-esteem and social skills,” she said.

“They provide people with dementia tactile and sensory experiences, eliciting a sense of comfort and security, and an opportunity to express their emotions through interacting and talking about the animals.”

The 61-bed residence recently underwent a major renovation. It now has a pampering salon and hairdresser, multipurpose room, café and al fresco dining area.

Ms Page said Condare Court has a pet-friendly policy and encourages visits from family pets.

“Two of our residents live on site with their cats,” she said.

People who are normally unresponsive to other forms of therapy may brighten up in the presence of an animal. Pets can also motivate the elderly to stay healthy and improve their motor skills.

“Seniors get a sense of validation and purpose by taking care and feeding the baby animals, promoting social behaviour such as smiling, laughing and eye contact,” Ms Page said.

“Some of our residents have farming backgrounds or a general love of animals. This visit provided opportunities for them to reminisce, triggering happy memories.”

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