Dog-people, cat-people, bunny, horse, fish and bird-people all have one thing in common: they connect with and love animals. Even the most hardened and grumpy person can become a softy when a puppy is placed in their arms. Animals have a power that many in the scientific community have had a difficult time quantifying. Several studies have now shown how beneficial pet interaction can be to both mental and physical health. So what inspired Silverado Senior Living to include pets in our communities, even before it was scientifically relevant?
At a young age Loren Shook, Silverado's President, CEO and co-founder, had his first experience witnessing the power and influence animals can have on people. Working at Fairfax Hospital, his Aunt and Uncle's psychiatric care facility in Seattle,Loren witnessed a woman who had been catatonic for years suddenly coming back to life. When Loren learned that she had loved horses before she had become catatonic, he brought out one of the gentle horses from the barn to greet her in the driveway at the entrance to the main building. To the amazement of everyone observing, the woman moved her arm and began petting the horse. She had regained her consciousness in the presence of a loving animal. Eventually she was able to walk and speak again. Her bonding experience with the horse and her subsequent recovery defied medical reasoning. No one could deny that something remarkable took place that day; an exchange powerful enough to motivate her to reconnect with the world.
One of the most difficult conditions of memory-impairing diseases like Alzheimer's and other types of dementia is the loss of one's ability to communicate. Confusion and disorientation are common which make verbal expression of emotions and needs difficult. Luckily our furry and feathered friends don't ask us for much. Their cues to offer attention and love are physical. When you feel the gentle nudge of a dog's nose or subtle hint of a cat circling at your feet, you have the opportunity to interact and give and receive love. That's the main reason Silverado includes a variety of pets at every one of its communities, from baby kangaroos and bunnies to mini horses and guinea pigs. Pets also need human contact and can restore a sense of purpose to a life shrouded with confusion. Our residents often assign themselves to walk the dogs around the community. It becomes their "job" and caring for the pet, even just for a short stroll, gives them self-confidence.
In addition to Silverado's community pets, individuals are encouraged to bring their own pet to live with them in their new home. A friendly wag of the tail or soft purr on the lap is always a welcome addition . At Silverado our pets give LIFE and love.