4 Heartwarming Examples of the Healing Power of Animals (Videos)

Animals and humans share a deep connection that is strengthened in times of great emotional and physical distress.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than when one witnesses the touching interactions that occur between animals and aging adults. Animal therapy programs have gradually taken root in many elder care arenas, including, adult day care centers, nursing homes and hospice care facilities.

Here are 4 examples of such programs, each one highlighting the uniquely beautiful bond that the elderly share with the animal kingdom:

The Beacon Hospice pet therapy program (see video above) helps people who are terminally ill find comfort and connect with fond memories of the past by allowing them to interact with specially-trained therapy dogs.

For these dying seniors, the animals represent a source of safety and care that cannot be replicated by human nurses and caregivers. Shannon Fultz, a pet therapy volunteer at Beacon describes the uncanny, sixth-sense of her dog, Tori, “She’ll pick a person out of the room and go over to them. It’s as if she decides, ‘That’s the person who needs me today.’”

Learn more about how hospice and palliative care can help people die with dignity and peace: Hospice and Palliative Care: Help During the End Stages of Life

Continue reading to discover how dogs may be able to help keep people with dementia out of nursing homes…

5 Tips for Getting a Grumpy Elder to Smile
13 Theme Songs for Family Caregivers
3 People Turning Parkinson’s into Inspiring Works of Art

The Dementia Dog program was developed as part of a competition initiated in the United Kingdom by the Department of Health and the Design Council, called, “Living Well with Dementia.” Competitors were tasked with developing innovative ways to improve the lives of people suffering from dementia.

A team comprised of members of the Glasgow School of Art, Alzheimer’s Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled and Guide Dogs U.K. came up with a concept they dubbed the “Dementia Dog” program. This program was designed to help people who have dementia and are still living at home to re-connect with their community and remain independent.

For more information on how guide dogs can help people with dementia, see: Canine Caregivers Change the Lives of Alzheimer’s Sufferers

The Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, Massachusetts uses therapy llamas to help older adults who are struggling with dementia and memory loss.

Engaging with these gentle, long-necked creatures helps put the men and women in the center’s memory support unit at ease. “When you have an interaction with an animal, it’s just more relaxed. There’s no expectation—there’s just love,” says Erica Labb, the Memory Support Program Director for the center.

Maggie the miniature horse lives in Massachusetts. In this video, Maggie hoofs it up and down the corridors of the Day by Day Adult Care Center in Glouchester, MA, generously doling out her signature “kisses,” much to the delight of the center’s aging visitors.

The Healing Power of Pets
4 Ways to Use Music as Medicine
6 Signs of Caregiver Burnout


Elisa F.
Elisa F3 years ago

Beautiful to witness...thanks for sharing.

Dale O.

Animals are truly comforting and certainly have many healing qualities for many people.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla4 years ago

Life is not a good one without animals

Judy T.
Judy T4 years ago

Llamas and miniature horsies!? :) This is the first time I've seen them doing these activities. Great idea! Thanks for sharing these videos with us! :)

Dale O.

Fascinating and marvellous.

Kati P.
kathy P4 years ago

their love is so precious! thank you for sharing

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

sarah plummer
sarah plummer4 years ago

As it has been stated-- dogs are man's best friend-- but it doesn't just stop there. There are many possibilities that will help not only the aged, but children as well. They will bond with an animal and the animals in turn help them in ways that sometimes man can't do.

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton4 years ago

I know that people don't have family they at least deserve an animal they can kiss.

Mary T.
Mary T4 years ago

thank you for sharing the heart warming story.