TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - For the third year in a row, the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary brings a little feline therapy to Tucson seniors.
Snuggles for Seniors is an animal-assisted therapy and emotional support program, run by Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary.
According to Hermitage staff, UCLA research (https://www.uclahealth.org/pac/animal-assisted-therapy) shows that interactions with animals can be therapeutic - lowering blood pressure, stabilizing heart rates and raising emotional and overall wellbeing. These benefits are definitely being felt by seniors in the Tucson area and their caretakers.
Hermitage carefully chooses its 'feline ambassadors' based on patience, calmness and how people-centric the animals are. These cats love spending time snuggling with the seniors at various facilities across the city.
In 2018 Hermitage's feline ambassadors participated in 40 visits, providing some 550 seniors with purrs and love.
Many of these visits are to seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory problems and the time spent with these cuddly felines helps stimulate their minds, soothing them, and providing therapy that would difficult to duplicate elsewhere.
“Thank you so much for bringing cats to us. We have residents who don’t have many visitors, so this really brightens their day and gives them something to look forward to. Many of our residents have dementia. This is great therapy, because not only is the physical sensation of petting the cats very soothing, but for them, it helps bring back memories and stimulates their minds. I would recommend ‘Snuggles for Seniors’ to anyone,” said Margaret Huebesch, the Activities Director for Fairmount Assisted Living and Memory Care.