Pet & Plant Therapy

The Therapeutic Power Of Pets
At Encore, our residents enjoy numerous health benefits that come from our innovative pet and plant therapies. Residents are delighted by a variety of pets, ranging from show animals to fair animals, and even horses! We plant and grow seasonable produce in wheelchair-friendly planters, which then become part of Encore’s dining experience.


The best medicine for some medical or mental health issues isn’t just medicine at all … it’s pet therapy (also known as animal-assisted therapy) in the form of a wet nose or a fun trick to brighten a resident’s day.


To reap the many benefits of animal therapy, we’ve developed an on-going partnership with the 4-H Club. Students bring their beloved show animals to Encore for showmanship training before fairs or competitions. Residents are both impressed and delighted by the animals as they prance around showing off their skills.

Senior-approved animals of all varieties are frequently stopping by. An alpaca, a frequent Encore visitor, is close to earning its animal therapy certificate. In addition to show animals, residents are visited by rodeo workers and fair animals, like bull riders, rodeo clowns, and horses.


Studies show that simply the nature of some animals make them instinctive healers for humans, providing unconditional love, emotional presence, and true companionship.


We’ve also seen first-hand the positive impact the human-animal bond has had on our residents. Pet therapy has been known to boost well-being and help improve health issues including high blood pressure and anxiety.

The benefits of pet therapy for seniors are abundant and may include:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Releasing endorphins that have a calming effect
  • Reducing anxiety and loneliness
  • Diminishing overall physical pain
  • Stimulating memory
  • Increasing socialization and sense of community

  • Improving verbal communication
  • Motivating physical activity
  • Boosting self-esteem
  • Reducing boredom and loneliness
  • Improving assisted or independent movement


The healing power of gardening starts when our residents use their hands to plant seeds in soil and is realized with a beaming smile as they pluck a perfectly ripe summer tomato from the vine.


At Encore, our residents share the joy of being with living plants and reap the many benefits. They experience true gardening by planting, tending, and harvesting seasonal produce, like tomatoes, okra, and cucumber. Once ripe, Encore’s dietary department incorporates the fresh, locally-grown produce into its cooking for community meals.


Thanks to a combined effort of Encore’s Life Enrichment Director and Malvern High School’s Future Farmers of America organization, wheelchair-accessible planters were recently constructed for residents. Teachers and students from the high school also frequently share their agricultural expertise along with tips and tricks for gardening with our residents.

Plus, our residents get excited when they can snap and prep beans and purple hull peas that local area farmers bring in when they have a surplus. Our dietary managers often incorporate this farm-fresh produce into meals.


Combined, these garden-based and nurturing activities help our residents experience a renewed sense of purpose and support a higher quality of life. The colors and aromas of garden produce bring back pleasant memories and create new ones.