Pets and Seniors – Decreasing Loneliness and Beyond

Pets and Seniors

Pets aren’t just amazing companions – they actually provide tangible health benefits to seniors. It’s true. Did you know that pet owners visit their doctors 21% less often than non-pet owners and that they utilize less medication? Did you know that they tend to recover more quickly from illness and surgery and that they cope with stress better. Aging doesn’t have to be ruff…..read on!

Pet Owners Stay Active – Just keeping up with a pet causes one to be more active, whether we like it or not. Pets require walking and feeding and care – all which add up to calorie burning!

Pets Help Our Hearts – Yes, studies actually show that pet owners are less likely to develop heart disease as they have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels than the non-pet owners. Why? It’s baffled researchers for years.

Pets Ward Off Loneliness – Caring for a pet can actually keep feelings of depression and isolation away. Having that cuddly cat or dog can take one’s mind off of being alone.

Of course, there are the many other benefits that pets provide – such as the safety factor that comes with owning a dog (i.e. barking at potential intruders), the self confidence that comes to pet owners and the enhanced social opportunities that accompany a pet. And it’s not a one way street. Pets also benefit when they are adopted by older owners. Seniors tend to have more time to spend with a pet – it can be a life changing event for older unwanted pets who go home with seniors.

Pet adoption should be discussed with your aging loved one, as there are definitely some factors that should be considered before a pet is adopted. Not every type of pet is right for every type of person. Some pets require more attention. Some pets are more trouble (i.e. they shed) whereas others do not. There are also “therapy pets” that can help individuals with disabilities. And, of course, the temperament of a pet is important.

You can learn more about how dogs and cats can benefit the elderly via Pets for the Elderly Foundation at PetsForTheElderly.org.