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Pets are undeniably therapeutic to stress and loneliness. And considering that more than 40% of elderly are experiencing loneliness on a regular basis, they are encouraged to get pets as a way to improve their well-being and reduce stress. In some studies, 72% of seniors who live alone said their pets have helped them cope with physical and emotional stresses. In short, there may be benefits for seniors to have an animal companion.
But there are also reasons to consider before a senior gets a pet. These include commitment and if the owner has existing health conditions that could get worse by taking care or getting close to a particular animal.
- 5 Reasons Why Seniors Should Consider Getting a Pet
- 3 Important Questions to Ask Before Having a Pet
- Final Take
5 Reasons Why Seniors Should Consider Getting a Pet
Turns out, pets could fetch healthier benefits, especially for older adults.
1. Pets are therapeutic
Among the physical benefits of a pet companion is its link to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and the heart’s pulse rate. In fact, those with dog companions are more likely to adopt heart-healthy exercise habits such as walking and running. Pets also have been linked with a decrease in depression and loneliness. And just by looking into your dog’s eyes for at least five minutes, you get to boost your oxytocin or love hormone in the brain.
2. Pets ease pain
In a study conducted by Pain Magazine in 2021, it reported that therapy dogs help in providing “significant reduction in pain and emotional distress for chronic pain patients”. They have reported that significant improvements were observed for pain, mood, and other measures of distress among patients after visits with a therapy dog, which is clinically meaningful in pain relief.
3. They keep a routine
In a survey, at least 62% of seniors said that committing themselves to their pets helped them maintain a routine, while 73% said that their animal companions gave them a sense of purpose. Having meaningful things to do becomes even more important after retirement, as lack of sense of purpose furthers the risk of depression and mental decline.
4. Pets make people more sociable
Owning a pet helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that people who suffer from isolation had a 30% greater risk of dying in the next seven years. Additionally, a new survey indicates that 65% of elderly pet owners said that their pets connect them with other people. A simple walk in the park with your pets can start up a conversation.
5. Pets keep owners active
From walking or playing with your pet, to basic activities such as grooming, feeding, and cleaning up, owning a pet makes one active. Such activities can meet the 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise needed by seniors aged 65 and above. Study also shows that 78% of dog owners said that their pets have helped them to be more physically active.
3 Important Questions to Ask Before Having a Pet
1. Are you willing to commit?
Before owning a pet, be sure to prepare yourself in every aspect because pets will make you change certain behaviors, lifestyle, and routine.
2. What type of pet is right for you?
To know what pet is right for you, know the pros and cons of dogs and cats. Other great pet options are fish, rabbits, birds, etc.
Also, seek medical advice before getting one to learn if having a pet would not aggravate your health condition.
3. Can you afford getting a pet?
Pets require some money not just from the purchase, but also for the maintenance such as food and grooming. Have some research for the ideal pet you are getting based on your financial capacity so it would not be a burden on you in the long run.
The many physical and emotional health benefits of committing to a pet have been proven by a lot of research and based on experiences. These benefits have been demonstrated especially to seniors who are vulnerable to many age-related diseases. When deciding what type of pet is the ideal for a senior, it is important to do a little research or consult an expert.
Whether living in their own home or in an assisted care facility, a senior who feels lonely deserves to have a pet companion.