A look at relationships, personal growth, & living/working in the 21st century.

Posts tagged ‘psychology’

Why EVERYONE should have a pet.

Take a minute to hug your dog – I’m sure he kisses you every chance he gets.

Having a pet is a always a winning proposition. Some people will say they don’t have time to care for a pet, or they can’t afford the vet bills. However, the reality is that being a pet owner can only improve your life. Caring for a pet requires you to step outside yourself and love another being. A pet’s love for you is unconditional and ever so powerful. No matter how badly your day has gone, upon returning home, your awaiting pet will shower you with genuine, wholehearted affection. As a result, you become happier, healthier, and generally a better person.

In case you’re questioning my logic, let’s look at the anecdotal evidence-health benefits. Pet owners improve their health by interacting with their pets. Lowered blood pressure is one outcome of interaction with domesticated animals. Whether you are walking through a petting zoo or holding a furry family member, it’s just pleasant, relaxing, and peaceful to interact with a friendly animal.

Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” is being studied to determine it’s role in social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors (Wikipedia). Oxytocin is a neuromodulator, meaning it is a horomone which remains in the cerebrospinal fluid for an extended period of time, thereby exerting a longer influence on overall brain activity.

Recent studies have shown that after interaction with their pets, individuals have higher levels of Oxytocin in their bloodstream than if they have not had such an interaction with their pet. This research moves science toward finding measurable effects of human-animal interaction.

It is known that pet owners are in better physical health than those without pets. Further, pet owners are more likely to survive serious heart attacks than those without a pet in the home. Anecdotes on the benefits of companion animals are quite compelling, and the professional community is finally noticing. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Devrlopment, part of the National Institute of Health, is examining whether service animals can tangibly benefit children’s well-being.

My Grandmother is a living testament to the fact that loving animals extends your life – both the quantity (length) and quality. Despite daily arthritis pain in many of her joints, she spends a significant portion of every day caring for/interacting with her dogs (English Bulldogs).

Pets teach us invaluable life lessons, such as, how to be happy, how to treat others well, and how to enjoy every moment. Why would anyone not want to learn to live these lessons? So, don’t forget – hug that pet!


Vital Information for Seniors: A Long-Term Care Survival Guide

This post is the first in a series on surviving in a long-term care facility (a.k.a., nursing home).
I’ve meant to write this for a long while. Where do I begin? What happened to respecting our elders?
I confess, in both my personal life and my profession, I like (even enjoy) talking/socializing with Senior Citizens. Apparently this puts me in a very unusual, small group of people. I’ll call us, Senior-Likers (SL’s). Further, I am not afflicted with gerontophobia (fear of old people), which is apparently pervasive in our society.

For some seniors, many times through no fault of their own, it is no longer possible to live safely in their private homes. Their health has deteriorated, their independence is gone, and they need help safely carrying out their activities of daily living.  Therefore, some seniors must enter a living arrangement where their health and well-being are protected, such as a long-term care facility.

As a mental health professional specializing in Gerontology, and an SL, I spend many hours providing my services in rehab/nursing facilities. Unfortunately, these settings are usually populated with mature adults, many of whom are quite vulnerable (the reason they are there). These adults must rely upon a “call light” to signal staff designated to come to their aid. Unfortunately, many times they end up waiting long periods for help with bodily functions which cannot wait (i.e., toileting). So why are there staff, who are there to help, who DON’T or WON’T help?  Given such a scenario, maintaining one’s self-respect, dignity, and sense of independence can become quite challenging.

Consider that dependent seniors must then rely upon others to meet needs they have likely med independently since early childhood, i.e., toileting.  Unfortunately, those staff upon whom they rely are sometimes simply ‘job applicants,’ and I use the term loosely, who even McDonald’s won’t consider hiring. Like most of us they must work for a living. But unlike most people in helping positions, their love of humanity ends with themselves. I personally do not come from wealth and high social class, and I can relate to sometimes holding jobs where the pay was my sole motivation to go to work. However, shouldn’t we draw lines when our less than fulfilling, even unpleasant, job duties involve assisting others with very intimate activities of daily living?  Before going on I must acknowledge that there are exemplary caregiving staff who are respectful, caring, and who make an incredible effort to help those they serve feel respected.

What’s a possible solution/answer to caring for others respectfully, even when the duties involve unpleasant, yet essential acts of caregiving?  It seems very apparent.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” the Golden Rule. Simple, easy to remember, even wise advice, I dare say. Are we SL’s the only ones remembering this adage?

More entries will follow soon.  Please share your thoughts on the topics discussed.  I greatly appreciate your feedback on these important issues.