Pets For Seniors
Over the last decade, a multitude of studies has shown that four-legged fur babies have a positive impact on seniors, especially those living alone. Having a pet in the home provides positive emotional, physical and social well-being for seniors.
Pets can be invaluable to seniors who live alone. Studies have shown that seniors living alone are at increased risk for loneliness, depression and physical health deterioration. Having an animal companion – whether dog, cat, bird, rabbit or other animal pet – can provide an invaluable boost to a senior’s emotional and physical well-being.
Benefits of Pets For Seniors in the Home
Owning and caring for a pet can contribute to improvement in a senior’s quality of life by providing physical, social and emotional benefits. These benefits are wide-ranging, can be long-lasting and can relieve some of the daily adversities most seniors face.
- Physical benefits may include a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that blood pressure and cholesterol levels tend to be lower when regularly interacting with a pet. Playing with the pet, grooming and walking increase exercise levels. Caring for a pet helps establish routines, which encourage owners to take better care of themselves, too.
- Social benefits can include a decrease in isolation through activities such as walking the dog. This places seniors in positions to socialize with neighbors and others. A pet is a great conversation starter! Focusing on pets can stimulate memory recall and help seniors improve social bonds and interactions rather than dwelling on the past.
- Emotional benefits may include stress relief. Studies show interacting with a pet increases serotonin, a hormone that relieves stress. Pets provide physical contact and companionship, which can decrease anxiety.
Considerations for Getting a Pet
While getting a pet for yourself or a senior family member or friend can have a positive effect, there are some considerations to think about before introducing a pet into the home.
What kind of pet to get (we love dogs!!). Consider the senior’s mobility level. If walking is a problem, a cat may be a better choice than a dog. Birds or fish are options in cases of extreme limitations to mobility.
Providing for the pet. Obtaining food and supplies for a pet can be as simple as shopping online or via a phone app. Large retailers offer dog food, vitamins, and supplies online. Even specialty items, such as products to alleviate doggie bad breath, are easily ordered online.
Consider adoption from a local animal shelter. Pets obtained here are usually already socialized and many are house-broken, trained to follow commands and are veterinarian certified to be in good health.