BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Hospice patients often withdraw from loved ones and the world around them, but one organization in Batesville is working to cheer up their patients with animals.
Caring Hands Hospice started offering pet therapy about three weeks ago at a local nursing home.
Volunteers say they have seen a great response so far.
Interacting with an animal can be easier than talking to people and gives patients temporary relief from their worries.
"Yesterday was one of our pet therapy missions at a local nursing home," Rhonda Morse, the volunteer coordinator at Caring Hands Hospice, said. "We had several residents that normally don't speak that started singing and petting the dog and it was just really a blessing."
Pet therapy has been proven to increase pain tolerance, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and, of course, cheer patients up for a little while.
"The first reaction that I see is a huge smile on everyone's face," Morse said. "Most of them have their hands outreached, they want to pet, they want to hold, and I'm sure it brings back memories of when they were home with their pet."
The group is only in one local nursing home right now but is wanting to start visiting others and might begin visiting in-home hospice patients as well.
If you have a friendly pet who listens well and is accepting of strangers, you are welcome to volunteer your time and animal to the hospice organization.
You can contact Morse by phone at 870-698-0505 to find out how to get started.
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