Pets are a wonderful addition to many lives and seniors are no exception! Our older loved ones can benefit, in many ways, from either living with, or getting to visit a pet frequently. As people age, they can begin to feel lonely due to the loss of friends and family or living far away from loved ones. However, about 88% of seniors reported that pets make life more enjoyable. Seniors who have pets or therapy animals can fight loneliness and improve their wellbeing.
It can also become difficult for seniors to regularly leave their home for both every day and recreational activities. Having a pet, however, can give seniors a source of physical, mental, and emotional health. Join us as we review the benefits of pet ownership below:
Sharing a Home with a Pet Reduces Stress and Depression
While spending time alone may induce stress, having a pet around can help to combat it. Caring for animals not only provides comfort, but it also gives people something to care for. Providing companionship to seniors, pets reduce the feeling of loneliness characterized by old age. For many people, their pets become a valuable member of the family.
When people interact with pets like cats and dogs, their bodies release feel good hormones which help to relax the mind and body. Daily exposure to pets can help people feel calm and focus on the positive aspects of living. In fact, being around animals has also shown to have a positive effect on symptoms of depression.
Caring for a Pet Can Increase Physical Activity
Seniors are prone to living a more sedentary lifestyle due to health or social reasons. However, people need about three hours per week of aerobic exercise to maintain health. Extra physical activity can come from walking a dog or playing with pets in the home. Even simple tasks such as feeding a pet can increase physical activity. While some people may not feel inclined to get out of bed, they are more likely to feel motivated to do so to meet the needs of their pets.
Pets Provide Companionship
Isolation, loneliness, and depression may accompany aging – especially for seniors with mobility issues. Pets, however, can provide the much-needed companionship people need to maintain a happier lifestyle.
Having a pet that requires time, attention, and affection can help people through difficult times like losing a loved one. Pets can also serve as therapeutic companions. Seniors who live alone will feel more connected by interacting with and creating emotional bonds with their pets.
Having pets may also open up opportunities to socialize. Taking a dog for a walk or to the dog park increases the likelihood that seniors will run into other people outside and strike up a conversation opening up an opportunity for connection and friendship.
Caring for Pets Helps to Develop an Active Routine
Living alone can lead to lethargy and sluggishness due to the lack of accountability or needs from others. It can also lead seniors to be less active mentally. By engaging in activities such as feeding pets and other related chores, seniors living alone are able to find direction and stay active both mentally and physically. With positive routines, seniors can set goals to work towards that can improve their self-worth.
Pets Can Help Protect Owners
The presence of pets, like dogs, can help to deter potential burglars. Seniors living alone are soft targets for thieves who are after property or money. A barking dog, however, can warn would-be intruders to steer clear of your home.
Additionally, other pets such as cats and birds can prove as formidable opponents against intruders. They can fight off and also raise alarm to the presence of unwanted people, buying enough time for seniors to call for help.
Having Pets Can Improve Heart Health
Circulatory diseases, especially high blood pressure, are more prevalent with aging. Looking after a dog can actually help you keep your blood pressure in check. Pets have a calming effect on people and spending time with pets is reported to lower pulse rate and blood pressure.
Walking your pets is form of aerobic exercise that is good for your heart and may reduce the risk of obesity which can affect heart health.
Develop New Interests with Your Pet
Pet ownership opens up a world of possibilities for new interested and hobbies related to their wellbeing and daily activities. Seniors may join local pet groups, take interactive training classes, or even visit public parks to keep their pets happy and healthy. This can serve as a great outlet to make new friends and acquaintances.
Depending on the state of their health and mobility, lower-maintenance pets such birds, cats, or fish can be a great option for some seniors. There are many factors to review when decided to adopt a dog including age, size, and breed. Be sure to evaluate you or your loved one’s abilities before visiting a shelter. It might be time to consider getting a pet to improve your or your loved one’s social, physical and mental health! And don’t forget to ask your AmeriCare agency about their pet services so that you or loved one can reap all the benefits of pet ownership!