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Why Fido is the Best Valentine

Enjoying the Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Enjoying the Health Benefits of Pet OwnershipOur Operations Manager, Jeannine, drives the most popular member of our management team to work each day. Jake is a big, black goldendoodle: half golden retriever, half poodle, and all heart. He makes the rounds of all our homes. He attends to each resident.

A whistle from Bill, and Jake quietly sits for his morning pet. A word from Toni, and Jake is at her side, guarding the patio from chipmunks. He can start a somber household laughing by patrolling the yard for squirrels. He senses when someone isn’t feeling well and quietly stands watch at the bedside.

Jake has all the time in the world to visit. He listens quietly, head on lap, with a soulful look. He offers no unwelcome advice or criticism.

A Valentine Who Feels the Love

Our residents form deep, comforting attachments to Jake. Studies show that “pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners.”1 People with pets are happier. They feel closer to the other people in their lives. Pets are like a salve, soothing feelings of isolation and rejection.

A chat with Jake gives Mom a reason to stay alert and engaged. People who stop to pet Jake interact with her, too. She feels connected – valued – cherished.

Studies confirm the powerful health benefits of pets – of stroking them and looking into their eyes:2

  • Increased oxytocin levels.
  • Decreased pain and stress levels.
  • Calmness and a desire to make social connections.

A comforting relationship with a pet is especially beneficial for someone living with the confusion of dementia. No one is better at helping you to forget your worries and to live in the moment.

A Valentine Who’s Good for Your Heart

Worried about Dad’s heart health? The American Heart Association believes that owning a pet, particularly a dog, can reduce his risk of heart disease by keeping him more active.3

Pets like Jake can alert us to changes in our loved ones’ health, too: a drop in blood sugar levels, an approaching seizure.4

[su_column size=”1/2″] Jake's-Valentine[/su_column][su_column size=”1/2″]A Valentine Who Makes You Smile

The best health benefits of pet ownership? The smiles. Scientists will tell you it’s all about dopamine and serotonin.5 Deep down, without the chemistry, we all know everyone feels better with a smile.

So find a way for Mom to connect with a pet. Do it in a way that’s fair to the pet.

If Mom can’t care for herself, don’t expect her to take care of a dog. Don’t expect her caregivers to provide professional canine care, either.

Be creative and flexible.

  • Can you bring YOUR pet along on visits?
  • Can Mom form a bond with a shared pet, like Jake?
  • Can you arrange visits by volunteers with therapy pets?[/su_column]


A Valentine for Caregivers

When you help Mom or Dad connect, you share in the health benefits of pet ownership.

And in the smiles.

For Valentine’s Day, we’re bringing caregivers everywhere a smile. We’ve filled a Pinterest board with pictures to bring you a twinkle, a grin or an outright guffaw.  Visit “A Flower and a Smile for My Valentine” when you need a lift.

Follow Care Haven Homes’s board A Flower & A Smile for My Valentine on Pinterest.

Happy Valentine’s Day!



1 McConnell, Allen R., and Christina M. Brown. “Friends With Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101.No. 6 (2011): 1239-252. American Psychological Association. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.

2  Olmert, Meg Daley. “”DOG GOOD”” Web log post. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 5 May 2010. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.

3 “Owning a Pet May Protect You from Heart Disease.” American Heart Association. 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.

4 Hyman, Mark, MD. “Vitamin P: The Secret to Health and Longevity.” The Huffington Post., 26 June 2013. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.

5 Wenk, Gary L., Ph.D. “Addicted to Smiling.” Web log post. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 27 Dec. 2011. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.

Why NOW is the Best Time to Get a Flu Shot

It is time for your flu shotWhy You Need to Get a Flu Shot

The flu isn’t a minor seasonal setback for seniors. It’s a serious disease that can send you to your bed – or the hospital – for weeks.

  • People of all ages – even strong, healthy people – can suffer AND SPREAD the flu.
  • On average, more than 200,000 people in the US are hospitalized each year for flu-related respiratory and heart illness.
  • People 85 years and older are hospitalized at the highest rates.
  • Anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people have died during each flu season between 1967 and 2007.
  • 90% of those who died were over age 65.

(All statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web pages on Seasonal Influenza.)

According to the CDC, “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.”

Why Each Year?

  1. Over time, the shot “wears off.” A vaccine prods your body’s immune system into producing an army of antibodies. This hard-charging force grows tired and weakens as it fights through the flu season. It needs reinforcements every fall.
  2. Viruses constantly change. Like other dangerous invaders, they adapt to overpower new defenses. Each year the flu vaccine changes, too. It’s reformulated to be effective against whichever viruses it’s most likely to battle.

Why Now?

The flu season can begin as early as October and end as late as May. It peaks between December and February.

Your body needs about two weeks to develop antibodies after vaccination.

So the best time to get a flu shot is NOW!

Can a Flu Shot Guarantee I Won’t Get Sick?

No. A flu shot protects you only from influenza. Lots of look-alike viruses with similar symptoms pass through during the season. The flu shot won’t protect against them.

It’s also possible that you’ll run into a flu virus that’s not perfectly matched to this year’s vaccine.

And most vaccines work best in healthy adults or older children.

You Should Still Get a Flu Shot!

  • Even if the match isn’t perfect, your antibodies will put up a fight. If you get the flu, you’re likely to have a milder bout.
  • Even if your body isn’t good at producing lots of strong antibodies, some protection is better than none.
  • If this year’s match is good, and if your immune system rises to the challenge, you could avoid the flu altogether.
  • If you avoid the flu, you help those around you avoid it, too. That’s important when you’re living with – or caring for – small children, seniors or people with chronic health conditions. They are especially vulnerable to flu’s worst outcomes.
  • You’ll have a better chance of staying out of the hospital. According to the CDC,

[su_row][su_column center=”yes”][su_note note_color=”#ebf3f2″ class=”standout”]One study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.[/su_note][/su_column][/su_row]


Is a Shot the Only Way?

Getting a flu shot is the best way to fight flu. But you shouldn’t forget everyday common sense for keeping everyone healthy.

  • Wash your hands!
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Maintain good health habits – watch your sleep, diet, fluids, exercise and stress.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • And, again, WASH YOUR HANDS!

[su_note note_color=”#f8c243″ class=”standout”]We’ve Scheduled Our Flu Shot!

Spectrum Home Health Agency gave flu shots to residents in each of our homes this week.

Did you get yours?

Need help finding the vaccine? Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.[/su_note]

Source: (, online source for credible health information and the official Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), October 15, 2014.

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