If the senior in your life is living independently, you may want to consider getting them a pet. Studies show pet companionship has a number of benefits to senior citizens, including increased activity, better mood, and better overall well-being. Whether they live at home or in assisted living, there a lot of reasons seniors can benefit from getting a pet.

Pet Ownership Decreases the Risk of Heart Disease

Surprisingly, pet ownership helps decrease heart disease in a number of ways. Pet ownership encourages consistent physical activity which helps with fewer doctor’s visits and lower body mass index. Research also indicates that living with animals lowers blood pressure, especially during stressful moments. Plus, pet owners who suffer from a heart attack tend to survive longer than those who don’t own pets.

 

Pet Owners Live Happier Lives

Truthfully, pet ownership has countless physical and mental benefits. Studies have found that owning pets promotes psychological well-being in several ways, including:

  • Increased serotonin and dopamine levels, thereby decreasing chances of suffering from depression
  • Reduced stress by providing entertainment and affection
  • Decreased loneliness by providing companionship and something to love and care for
  • Improved daily living as pets generate a sense of responsibility and need for routine

 

Pet Ownership Keeps You Active

Not surprisingly, pet owners typically exercise more compared to people who do not own pets. Taking the dog for a walk or chasing a kitten around the house are both fun, easy ways to fit in regular exercise. Studies have shown that dog owners, are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements compared to non-owners. Extra physical activity helps them forget about their aches and pains leading to less doctor’s visits.

 

Pet Ownership Provides Companionship

When seniors live alone, they can become vulnerable to loneliness and depression. Having a pet can provide “someone” to visit with and show affection to. Caring for an animal helps people feel loved, needed, wanted, and appreciated. Even though it’s not quite the same as human interaction, many pet owners are reassured by the fact that no matter what’s going on in their lives, their pets will always love them.

 

Getting Started

Pet ownership requires responsibility, make sure a pet is the right choice before bringing home a new friend. Here are a few suggestions for new senior pet owners:

  • It may be a good idea to try pet ownership before you commit to it. Many local shelters have foster programs that will help you learn the ins and outs of pet ownership before committing. A new pet stays with you only until the shelter finds a permanent home or you choose to adopt.
  • If the idea of fostering a pet is too much, consider volunteering to walk or babysit a neighbor’s pet; you can also spend time visiting animals in animal shelter.
  • Look into local community programs for pet owners. Many offer assistances with pet medications, veterinary treatment, and even food and supplies.

 

There are countless stories of seniors overcoming grief and life transitions using the love of a pet. Seniors living with pets smile more, both at home and in residential care. People who own dogs seems to experience the greatest health benefits; however, a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. Pet ownership can bring you joy, whether it’s furry, feathered, or living in a bowl.

 


For additional caregiving information, visit the main page or learn more about senior care options on the main Assisted Living page.

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 About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.

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