Benefits of Pets for Seniors

Having dependable companionship undoubtedly plays a role in health, happiness, and longevity. However, as people age, companionship can be harder to find—especially in the situation where one is homebound, or if they lose their spouse or close friends. But the benefits of companionship aren’t only gained through people to people relationships. Pets can provide many of the same benefits that human companions provide, including stress relief, protection, and a sense of purpose. 

Today, there are numerous studies that show that pets can be beneficial for people who are aging. Read on for six benefits of companion pets for seniors.

Pets Can Help Seniors Combat Stress  

For those considering adopting a pet, one major concern they may have is how stressful it can be. But on the contrary, engaging with pets can actually have enormous stress-relieving benefits for seniors. Studies have shown that both owning and interacting with pets can lead to decreased depression rates, lowered cholesterol levels, and reduced overall rates of arthritis pain and heart-related diseases. In fact, research has found hat dog owners have lower blood pressures than non-dog owners. <H2> Pets Offer Companionship and Protection

It can be hard for families to leave their elderly loved ones alone for extended periods of time. If a cat or dog is there to support your loved one, however, this concern can be lessened.

Dogs aren’t called “man’s best friend” for nothing—these pets truly do focus their sole attention on their owners. They will happily play or snuggle with your loved one whenever the opportunity arises. Additionally, dogs have an uncanny ability to detect when people are feeling sad and need comfort, and will immediately go to their person’s side to cheer them up. This unconditional love can help to ease the loneliness or sadness a senior may feel while living alone.

On top of the emotional benefits, dogs also offer an increased sense of security. After all, nothing is more intimidating to an intruder than a dog’s bark. Dogs can also be trained to detect early signs of physical ailments, such as fainting, and direct their owners to sit down.

Pets Help Seniors Get Daily Exercise

An unfortunate fact of aging is that we slow down. Our muscles deteriorate, coordination worsens, and we don’t have the same boundless energy we did before. This can make it difficult for seniors to motivate themselves to exercise. Having a pet to walk regularly, however, helps keep seniors accountable for getting out the door everyday.

Dogs need daily exercise and love going on walks with their owners. And it’s not only cardio benefits that they’ll reap by walking: fresh air and natural sunlight are also important for the health of seniors. These elements provide essential vitamins, improve mood, and add a boost of stimulation to seniors’ days that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Regular exercise also helps seniors strengthen their muscles and combat the risk factors of heart attacks and stroke.

Pets Increase Socialization Opportunities For Seniors

Because dogs require daily exercise, owning a dog opens up opportunities for seniors to socialize, meet, and make new friends with other pet owners in their neighborhood. They can organize walking groups that all neighbors can join, whether they have pets or not.  

Pets Give Seniors A Newfound Investment On Life

Unfortunately, many elderly people feel isolated and lonely, often because they lack mobility, company, or adequate stimulation. Without companionship or a sense of purpose, seniors can face sadness, anxiety, or even clinical depression. These intense emotions can make it difficult to get out of the house or even out of bed, which can cause seniors’ mental and physical health to deteriorate even faster. 

By adopting a pet, seniors can instantly gain a sense of purpose and something to care for. Pets also provide opportunities for your loved one to develop rewarding routines and healthy habits. Here are a few of the regular chores pet owners must complete to keep their pets happy and healthy: 

  • Pets must be fed and watered daily. 
  • Just like people, pets have to keep up with their health and hygiene. But unlike humans, they can’t do it themselves—that’s where their owners, or caregivers, step in. Pets need to be kept clean with regular baths and brushing. Some may even require a groomer. They also need to visit the vet regularly to stay up to date on their vaccinations and take care of any other health issues. 
  • Cats need to have their litter boxes changed, while dogs need to be let outside to use the bathroom. 
  • More than anything, pets crave love and attention. A key responsibility of a pet owner is to play and entertain their furry friends—and in return, their pets will love them back. 

Dogs for seniors mean more than just bringing a cuddly animal home. It means your loved one is making an active choice to both continue living their lives and to add real purpose to their life by investing in another. 

Pets Can Help Seniors Heal

As mentioned above, companion pets for seniors can help combat stress and encourage exercise.  Both factors can result in improved mood, lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, and better cardiovascular health overall. All of these factors can then help seniors recover from illnesses and setbacks more quickly if they were to become ill or be injured. 

Find a Compassionate (Pet-Friendly!) In-Home Caregiver

If you’re worried about your loved one not having the time or energy to care for a pet, you can trust the quality caregivers at Advanced Nursing and Home Support to offer not only specialized care for them, but also their furry friends. As part of our personal care offerings, our team can help feed and walk pets, as well as help pet owners get to and from veterinary appointments. 

If you or someone you love is in need of in-home care in the Maryland or the D.C. area, schedule your home care consultation today. You can contact us online or by phone at 240-414-4147 to request more information.