‘I love you to pieces’

Life-like companion pets bring joy to nursing home residents.

‘I love you to pieces’

The soothing sound and gentle vibrations of a kitten purring brings contentment.

The happy bark of a dog on a lap brings joy.

And the feel of their soft fur evokes hugs and displays of affection.

These companion pets are bringing smiles and laughter to the residents of Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital Rehabilitation and Nursing Center when they need it most—after more than a year of being isolated from in-person visits from family and friends.

“I saw her and I just fell in love with her,” said resident Susan Schildhouse, while holding her dog Penny on her lap. “She’s my baby.”

Schildhouse talks to Penny just like a real dog.

“She takes care of me, don’t you?” she asks Penny. “Yes, you do. I love you to pieces.”

Penny is one of 34 life-like companion pets the rehabilitation center received in March through a grant from the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and the state’s Aging and Adult Services Agency.

The pets, made by Ageless Innovations, respond to human voice and touch by using sensors and speakers. The robotic, stuffed animals bark, purr, lift paws, blink eyes, turn heads and roll over. They even have a mute button.

Pets help fill visitor gap

Denise Tinkham, a social worker at the rehabilitation and nursing center, applied for a grant that provided a pet for residents diagnosed with dementia, as well as those who have experienced cognitive decline or who have experienced isolation and loneliness due to visitor restrictions because of COVID-19.

When the pets arrived, about a year into the pandemic, that entailed just about everyone, Tinkham said.

They were an instant hit.

“The response was much more favorable than I had anticipated,” Tinkham said. “Nearly everyone that received a pet had a positive response—a smile bigger than we’ve seen for a while, or others where the response was even more dramatic.”

One long-term resident with dementia had a difficult time after being isolated following a positive COVID-19 test.

After being presented with a kitten, she rebounded sharply, Tinkham said.

“The pet has been a bright spot,” she said.

Except for a few days when limited visitors were allowed, the residents haven’t had in-person visits from family or friends since before the pandemic.

“The pandemic has been especially hard on nursing center residents,” said Jeff Godfrey, administrator at the rehabilitation and nursing center. “The companion pets have lifted their spirits and even the spirits of our (team members) because they see the residents enjoying themselves.”

The team members bought collars for the pets and helped each resident pick names for their kitten or dog—some picking a name of a pet they had years ago. Name tags were affixed to their colorful collars.

Making it official

The pets were even formally adopted during a May 3 ceremony, with 18th Probate District Court Judge Tyler Thompson officiating.

Thompson gave each resident an adoption certificate, while cheers and applause rang through the facility activities room.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a pet adoption for these type of pets,” Thompson told the residents. “And I think it’s really, really special.”

Spectrum Health recreation therapist Heather Nicklas said the pets provide companionship to the residents, just as their names implies.

“We actually have residents that treat them just like their pets,” Nicklas said. “They bring them to activities with them.”

Nicklas said the residents had fun naming their pets.

Carolyn Burrell named her dog Smoke, just like a dog she had at home.

“Hello, Smoke, you’re staying with me,” she said when she received her dog.

Virginia Polhamus calls her cat Flapjack. She likes to tell stories about eating flapjacks on trips to Texas.

“I’m not fussy,” Polhamus said. “We’d usually have them at breakfast, but once in a great while we’d have pancake supper.”

William Franklin is enjoying his cat.

“It’s a nice cat,” he said. “We had a couple of cats—Little Horse and Suzie, I think it was.”

Some residents even sleep with their pets nestled next to them on their pillows.

Furry friends provide comfort

“They make little noises and stuff. She sleeps with me all the time, she never leaves me and it’s a blessing,” Schildhouse said of Penny. “I’ve been in this home for probably six months, almost, and I don’t get to see my husband very much.”

“It helps bring back memories of when they had pets at home,” Nicklas said. “I think it’s a wonderful program and we’re thankful for the ombudsman program for setting it up, to provide the funding for it.”

The Reed City Hospital Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has two real cats roaming its halls, Sonny and Cher, along with an aquarium and bird aviary—all aimed at providing a more home-like atmosphere for the residents.

The introduction of companion pets has been a great addition to the mix.

“I continue to receive positive comments from staff and families about this program,” Tinkham said. “It surely has been a bright spot for our elders during these challenging times.”

Just ask Resident Eleanor Eichenberg, who adores her dog, Honey.

“I like her, she’s my friend,” Eichenberg said. “I don’t have a husband anymore. He went to heaven, so I have Honey now.”

Eichenberg held Honey close.

“She’s a good little girl,” she said smiling.

Source : Health Beat More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

Tips For Improving Your Health In 2021

There are some things you can do to take control of your health and improve the way you feel. More

Tips For Improving Your Health In 2021

Written By Sierra Powell / Reviewed By Ray Spotts

You likely know that the cost of health insurance is steadily rising. It would be nice for physicians, healthcare facilities, and insurance companies to work together and come up with ways to give citizens incentives for making healthy choices.

However, chances are we may continue to see rising prices when it comes to paying for the healthcare services we need. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to take control of your health and improve the way you feel.

These simple steps for improving your health in 2021 can give you the energy you need to complete important tasks throughout the day and spend quality time with the people who mean the most to you.

Make Some Home Improvements

Updating features in your home to make you and your family healthier can help you breathe easier and prevent disease. Install furnace filters to keep toxic fumes and debris out of your home. This can be especially helpful if you suffer from allergies or asthma.

It is also important to repair any water damage right away to prevent mold and mildew buildup in your home since exposure to these toxins can lead to serious illness. Small changes like opening the windows more and allowing natural light to shine into your home will brighten your mood and give you more exposure to vitamin D to reduce feelings of depression.

Get Enough Sleep

Try to get one more hour of sleep each night than you usually get. Most adults aren't getting enough rest, and an additional hour can help your body's systems rejuvenate and protect your body from illness. Adequate sleep also slows the aging process and improves your concentration so you can focus on taking on the tasks of the day when you wake up.

Make Healthy Snacks More Accessible

If you tend to grab snacks that are high in sodium and sugar, place healthier snacks in plain view. This will make it easier to choose food that is beneficial for your body. Fill a bowl with fresh fruit and place it in the center of the kitchen cabinet so you'll see it as soon as you walk into the room.

Fill decorative containers with dried fruit, nuts, and vegetable chips so you can create your own trail mix. The easier it is for you to have access to snacks that are good for you, the more likely you are to make better eating choices.

Drink More Water

If you're having a hard time getting enough water throughout the day, try replacing one of your drinks with water every day. You can also carry a water bottle with you that contains markers to let you know how much progress you're making when it comes to staying hydrated. You can also add some fresh lemon and lime wedges, fresh mint, or berries to your water to enhance the flavor.

Take Time to Relax Every Day

Take about 15 minutes a day to relax your mind and body. This can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is important to reduce stress as much as possible throughout the day to lower your chances of heart disease and high blood pressure as well. A yoga routine, meditation, writing in a journal, or reading can help you decompress and keep your mood balanced.

Slow Down When You're Eating

If you have a busy schedule, you likely have to grab a meal on the go most of the time. Being more mindful when you eat and slowing down during a meal will help you enjoy your food, and eating slowly can also reduce your caloric intake. As much as possible, practice mindful eating and enjoy meals with your family so mealtime will be a peaceful and enjoyable occasion.

These helpful tips can make you feel better in just a few days. When you make these habits part of your life, you can improve your well-being for years to come.

Subscribe to our  newsletter for more information about . If you are looking for more health resources check out the  

Written By:

Sierra Powell graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a major in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing. When she's not writing, she loves to cook, sew, and go hiking with her dogs.

Reviewed By:

Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed , a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at .

Photo by  from 

Source : Trusted Health Products More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.