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Not Your Typical Caregiver

Typically, the definition of a caregiver conjures images of family members, friends, or paid professionals – not dogs.  Over the past forty years, however, therapy dogs have proven to play a significant role in helping sick or injured people in all types of settings, verifying their status as a caregiver in the nontraditional sense of the term.

There are three types of therapy dogs: therapeutic visitation dogs, which are to visit hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and schools with their owner; animal assisted therapy dogs that help sick or injured patients, aiding in recovery; and facility therapy dogs, which typically live in nursing homes and are trained to help mentally ill or elderly individuals.  Whatever the setting or the situation, all therapy dogs must be trained, even-tempered, and well socialized to do their job, and there are many certification options, including programs by the American Kennel Club and Humane Society.

Aside from providing obvious psychological benefits to people, therapy dogs are proven to help patients in a many physical ways as well.  Dogs can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reducing anxiety, as well as levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine in the brain.  These neurotransmitters are responsible for stimulating the nervous system, and it’s important for people to have the right levels to counter depression or anxiety.  

Therapy dogs also raise endorphin levels, which help manage pain and stress, and boost oxytocin, improving happiness, empathy and overall quality of life.  Whether they’re cheering up elderly patients in nursing homes, helping calm stressed college students during exams, or assisting physical therapists in patient recovery, therapy dogs are excellent examples of caregivers.  Their gentle disposition and irresistible charm are perfect for many patients, plus the love they share knows no bounds!



Sources:

http://www.therapydogs.org/library/articles/119

http://www.pawsforpeople.org/who-we-are/benefits-of-pet-therapy/

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Introducing the Spectra Caregiver Series

As we move into a new year, we will be rolling out a blog series sharing stories about caregivers in our lives and how they have helped others. The time and effort put in by caregivers is so often overlooked. At Spectra, we feel that it is important to recognize these heroes and take a moment to say thanks. 

Over the next few weeks, we will share these stories in the hopes that these expressions of gratitude will resonate with someone in your life.

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Holiday gifts for the caregiver in your life.

With less than a week left until Christmas, we’ve pulled together a list of our favorite gift ideas for the caregivers in your life. Amidst all of the holiday hustle and bustle, we often forget what life would be like without those we rely upon most.

House Cleaning - Household maintenance often slips for caregivers who have a heavy load of responsibilities. Schedule a post-holiday house cleaning by a local cleaning company or volunteer your time to help get them have a fresh start for the new year.

Massage - Being a caregiver to someone else is taxing on both the body and the mind. Give the gift of a massage this holiday season to promote stress reduction and relaxation.

Gift box - It’s always fun putting together an array of uniquely themed gift boxes filled with hand selected items. A personal touch makes all the difference and you can create this gift specifically to the preferences of your caregiver.

Flowers - A beautiful bouquet is always a welcomed gift for a caregiver. Call your favorite florist or order online for in-home delivery.

Card - You can never go wrong expressing your appreciation for a caregiver with a heartfelt card. Cards with photo personalization also make a wonderful holiday greeting for friends and loved ones.

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to show the caregivers in your life how much you respect and appreciate everything they do.

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What is a caregiver?

The dictionary defines “caregiver” as a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.

But is that really it?

At Spectra, we know that it’s much more. We believe that a caregiver is anyone who willingly sacrifices time and energy to enhance or protect the wellbeing of another.

A caregiver is a husband supporting his pregnant wife. A caregiver is a daughter helping her elderly mother adjust to her new nursing home. A caregiver is the friend who is always willing to bring you to therapy and the therapist who works with you every week.

You may find yourself in a caregiver role abruptly, or you may have time to plan ahead. It may include quick tasks like picking up mail and calling in a prescription, or it may be something that takes up hours and hour of time. It may be for just one day or it might be for several years.

Everyone plays the role of a caregiver at some point in their lives. Participation at any point in the spectrum of care for others, no matter how small, is just as important as the next.

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Who cares?

More people are caregivers than you might think. Spectra's goal is to provide easy to use tools to help make their lives easier and give them some time back in their day. 



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