From helping children develop responsibility to providing unconditional love for those who are grieving, pets have been shown to be beneficial for people in all age groups. For the elderly, pets have a number of benefits for one’s physical and emotional health. Specifically, pet ownership helps develop and preserve healthy habits, improve cardiovascular health, and coping with loss and loneliness.
Keeping a pet is conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Pets need care and play, and this can help seniors get up and do activities they wouldn’t do otherwise. This allows for a more active lifestyle, which has numerous health benefits. This is especially true for dog owners, but it can also be the case for those with other pets.
Getting a pet can also improve mental health by leading the new pet owner to read up on how to take care of their cat, dog, bird, etc., as well as stimulate long-buried memories. This can be helpful for fighting memory loss and dementia.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Since owning a pet lends itself toward a more healthy lifestyle, seniors who keep pets tend to have better cardiovascular health. Some of the specific benefits this entails are as follows:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Increased chance of surviving a heart attack
Not only does the greater physical activity needed by pet ownership lend itself toward a healthy heart, but having a pet companion can also reduce stress and anxiety, which are also helpful for maintaining healthy blood pressure.
One of the most frequent difficulties seniors face is loneliness. As we get older, the tendency is to go out less and less, which limits social interaction. In addition, the chances of losing a loved one tend to be higher for the elderly. This can easily lead to anxiety and depression.
Pets can provide much needed affection to those who are grieving a lost loved one or who simply can’t go out on their own. This reduces loneliness and fights depression. In addition, the responsibility of caring for a pet gives seniors an opportunity to shift their focus from their own problems to someone else’s needs as well as provide a greater sense of self-esteem.
Since animals like dogs generally need to go outside for walks, they can help seniors interact with others, which also fights depression.
Choosing the Right Pet
Not all people are the same, and any two given individuals will likely age very differently. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the type and age of pet for a loved one, including:
- Disabilities or physical imitations
- Need for a therapy pet
- Temperament of the animal
- Previous pet ownership
- Ability to change lifestyle to care for a pet
It is important to note that getting a pet may not always be the right choice. The decision whether to get a pet should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
At Senior Care Centers, we are committed to providing the greatest comfort and level of independence to our residents as possible. We encourage interaction with pets as well as other beneficial activities. For more information on what we have to offer, give us a call.