How-To Articles

How to Include Animals in
Your Activity Program

It is important to include animals in your activity program, as they tend to have a soothing and calming effect on seniors.

It’s far more easier to include animals in your activities if your facility has house pets – like a house dog or house cat. But even if you have to look to other sources, like a local pet therapy organization, there are fun ways that you can incorporate animals in your activities:

Sensory Stimulation Activities. Provide fun activities that will stimulate your residents’ senses. For instance, contact a local pet therapy organization to schedule weekly visits to your nursing facility. If a pet organization is not an option, consider recruiting the friendly, safe pets of staff members or family members.

Reminiscing Activities. Schedule reminiscing opportunities to engage residents. For example, plan a monthly trip to your local pet store for residents to visit with the animals, or invite residents to make animal scrapbooks featuring photos of their favorite pets.

Interactive Activities. Coordinate fun special events that feature pets, like a fun dog show featuring the dogs of your residents’ family members. To keep the activity interactive, be sure to invite the residents to judge “Best in Show” and “Most Obedient” among the dogs.

Independent Activities. Incorporate animal activities for your independent residents. For instance, persuade your independent, animal-loving residents to assist with feeding the pets. Create a pet feeding log for your residents to use when feeding your facility’s dog, cat, birds, or fish.

Exercise Activities. Invite residents to get more exercise by accompanying you on daily walks with your facility’s dog. Promote the benefits of the fresh air and the neighborhood walk.

Educational Activities. Plan educational activities for residents, like a weekly animal documentary night or a special visit from a local petting farm or zoo. In addition, invite staff members to bring their pets for a fun Show and Tell activity for your residents.

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