Seniors with Pets: the Benefits

 It has been found that seniors who own pets visit their doctors 21% less frequently than those who don’t own a pet, according to The Pets for the Elderly Foundation. One of the many benefits that having a pet bring to the elders is that they keep them busy and active; and they also give them a sense of autonomy. Pets provide them company, unconditional love, and opportunities to socialize more. Any type of pet can be great such as; dogs, cats, fish, birds, etc (Sharnak, 2012). They all have the capacity to fulfill the lives of their owners and motivate them. Choosing the right pet is essential since they have to be taken care of, and bring a lot of responsibilities with them. If the elders are capable of providing the care and the things that the pet needs, then pets can be great companions for them. Seniors that own pets, especially dogs and cats, have been found to live longer lives. Owning a pet has great benefits for the elderly since pets provide great comfort that helps both their psychological and physical health.

When the seniors live alone, having a pet as a companion is great; pets become part of their family. Living alone can bring a lot of health and mental problems to the seniors. They suffer more from depression, stress and health problems and they lack of exercise. Owning a pet can make a big difference in their lives. Pets will keep them company, help reduce their stress and provide them a better sense of well-being (University of California, 2010). Seniors that own pets report that they feel less lonely, that their pets help them go through tough stressful times and that the feeling of responsibility towards their pets makes them feel better. They also have a sense of safety and security because they know that they are not alone. Pets offer unconditional love to them and they can be fun and entertaining as well, passing on positive vibes to their owners. They bring joy into the lives of the elderly helping them live healthier and happier lives.

Moreover, pets provide emotional comfort and motivation. Seniors that own pets are more likely to have active lifestyles and to interact more with other people (Sharnak, 2012). Pets require care, so the elderly have to provide that care and feed them and also make sure that they are fine. If the pet is a dog he needs to be walked and this is good opportunity for the senior to exercise. Their chance of interacting with other people increases as well and they can make new friends because of their pets (Davis, 2004). Cats are great pets for some seniors because they require less physical activity. Fish, birds and small pets are good to provide company and they help the seniors relieve stress. All this leads to better mental health and mental stimulation. Serotonin and dopamine levels are increased making the senior feel positive because of the activity in their brain (Robinson & Segal, 2011).

To conclude, there are a lot of physical health benefits that pets provide. Clinical studies have shown that senior pet owners have lower blood pressure; this can be attributed to their increased physical activity such as walking the dog. Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels have also been found and resilience; increased immunity to disease (Davis, 2004). Some pets are also therapeutic and help improve the overall health. All the health benefits that pets provide are related to why owning a pet can help senior live longer lives. Pets also bring purpose to the elderly so they tend to focus more on themselves because they want to feel good to be able to take care of their loyal companions. Pets are great and they will always be there for them, they are the best company.

References:

Davis, J. (2004). Web md. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets

Robinson, L., & Segal, J. (2011, June). The thereputic benefits of pets. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/life/pets.htm

Sharnak, B. (2012). Everyday health. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/pet-health/pets-for-the-elderly.aspx

University of California. (2010). Companion animal behavior program. Retrieved from http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/CCAB/elderly.htm

 

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2 thoughts on “Seniors with Pets: the Benefits

  1. I really like this topic! Pets are oftentimes overlooked for a source of social interaction. As people age, and friends and family members and especially spouses pass on, the elderly are left alone. I thought it was interesting how effective pets are at warding off health problems such as high blood pressure stress, and depression. I think you touched upon an important issue, pets can allow seniors to get out and be active as well as socialize with other people; they give them a reason to keep going. Being socially connected is innate in most humans and this need only increases as we lose the people we love. The fact that pets can offer the love and attention we need to remain healthy, is a gift that should not ignored.

  2. This is a really touching topic to read about because I have seen it in full effect many times. I believe that overall having a pet at any age is a huge benefit to people’s well-being. With a pet, one is never lonely and always has some type of presence around them. I do wonder though that if having a pet could also cause stress. Does it decrease the amount of traveling that an elderly person may participate in if they did not have a pet? The data on that is probably minimal but I do wonder if it exists or is significant. I think you did very well in bringing out all of the positive factors that come with having an animal in one’s life. I know I will have animals when I get older and I hope to see the benefits from it as you stated in your entry.

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