What are the health benefits of a human-animal bond?
Research has shown the positive side effects when humans and animals interact. It can help with both mental and physical aspects since it forces a person to exercise, which leads to:
Better Mental Health (decrease feelings of loneliness, increase opportunities to socialize, better cognitive functions in older adults, help with symptoms of PTSD)
Reduce anxiety, stress, depression, Alzheimer’s, and dementia
Increase physical health (decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels)
Increase physical activity (decrease obesity, improve cardiovascular health, which decreases the number of doctor visits)
Reduce cancer risk (reducing stress can help reduce people from doing some unhealthy behaviors because of stress, such as smoking, excessive drinking, overeating, and becoming less active)
Improve the quality of life, pain management, and early detection
Can one interact with an animal without owning it?
Yes! Ownership of a pet can be too much, considering a person’s living situation, age, physical capability, health, and financial obligations. Fortunately, plenty of places can fill that gap and become a win-win for everyone, meaning both humans and animals benefit. The first place could be visiting or caring for a family or friend’s pet. Other options are shelters, animal rescues or sanctuaries, or zoos. If you have some aging challenges, some non-profits specialize in coping with these challenges.
What is an example of an animal non-profit helping someone cope with an aging challenge?
Connected Horses: Established in 2015, they help people affected by memory changes and dementia. Along with care partners, Connected Horses provides therapeutic equine-guided workshops through on-the-ground interactions between horses and participants. Their programs are based on research conducted at Stanford and UC Davis, focusing on the relationship between people and horses through the nonverbal responses and behaviors of horses, who often act as a mirror to their counterparts.
People can participate in their programs or volunteer in one of their four locations:
Connected Horse is a non-profit, so donations are always welcome, or you can support them at their upcoming fundraiser.
What are other animal volunteer options?
If you want to work with an animal smaller than a horse, you can always look at your local animal shelter or rescue facility. They need volunteers to help walk dogs, interact with the animals so they are adoptable, help transport animals, and more.
Another option is volunteering at a non-profit zoo to help with all the various animal care. If you want to avoid interacting with animals, zoos need conservation volunteers to interpret conservation initiatives for zoo guests of all ages or become a Docent. Moreover, become a horticulture volunteer, where you work with the horticulture staff on park maintenance, landscape management, or restoration projects.
Increase your mental and physical health by interacting with animals. STAGES is here to let you know your options.