The lived experience of pet visitation among residents of long term care facilities
Moving into an institutional environment may cause feelings of anxiety, depression, grief or loss in the increasing number of elderly residents in long term care facilities. The lived experience of pet visitation was explored as a possible remedy. This study is significant because findings provide information about intervention strategies to assist residents in comfort and adjustment.Five themes, identified in ten interviews of residents in three midwest long term care facilities, illustrated that pet interaction: (a) contributed a sense of responsibility, environmental control, (b) afforded unconditional caring, companionship, (c) provided a connection with family and home. (d) furnished a sense of identity in the facility community, and (e) provided a sense of being protected within the facility. Evidence supports that pet visitation is a beneficial experience to the residents in long term care facilities. Study results are available for facility administrators as encouragement and justification to establish pet visitation programs.