Bird aviary helps lift elderly souls |

Bird aviary helps lift elderly souls

Lee Harstad

Residents of Valley View Manor in Craig are witnessing a way to develop their mental needs. Pet therapy has arrived in Craig and a bird aviary has been built in the lobby of Valley View Manor to help lift the soul.

The aviary was installed Nov. 4 and, according to Activities Director Kelly Newell, it adds to the environment.

“The community has come in already and had a lot of positive things to say about it,” Newell said.

Residents of Valley View Manor are also appreciative of the new structure.

“This is one of the most precious things. I have been bird watching for two years,” said Bertha Hinton, who turned 99 last week. “This is great for me and my children. It is the best thing that could have happened.”

The aviary houses 10 birds with five species zebra finches, canaries, diamond doves, society finches and blue capped waxbills.

Pet therapy is one of the faster growing areas within the health field. In a year-long study of 92 people with heart problems, 11 of the 39 without pets died, while only three of the 53 with pets died, according to a study conducted by Living Design of South Dakota.

The avairy was built by Living Design. The company specializes in producing enviornmentally stable aviaries and providing access to nature for people incapable of outdoor exursions. Birds, in their natural surroundings, attract visitors, stimulate interest and offer a shared interest to residents of Valley View Manor.

The biggest change from original aviaries has been with the birds. Valley View Manor, for example, now features singing and chattering birds in a variety of colors to better accomodate the hearing and visual skills of people viewing the birds.

Hinton said she woke up Sunday at 5 a.m. Not being able to continue sleep, she placed herself in front of the birds and spent a relaxing time watching and listening to the birds as the sun came up.

“The flash of colors and the songs can touch all residents,” Newell said.

Valley View Manor’s Alzheimer’s Unit also utilizes the bird aviary. Alzheimer’s sufferers are able to watch the birds and the birds can keep the attention of patients for 10-15 minutes, longer than music.