Pet therapy has been shown to benefit seniors by improving depression and anxiety symptoms, increasing self-care and even improving heart-health. Getting older can be very lonely and as people get older, their needs change. Pets are a great source in finding both companionship and comfort, which benefits seniors in countless ways!
- Heart Health: pets can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol which decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Improved wellness: taking your pets on walks, grooming and even playing with a pet increases the physical activity and exercise, which has a multitude of health benefits.
- Positivity: pet owners tend to take better care of themselves due to developing a routine and encouraging their owners to eat regularly or complete chores.
Social & Emotional Benefits:
- Interactions: by walking a dog, seniors are able to get outside often and have more opportunities to socialize with their neighbors.
- Decreased loneliness: having a pet provides a source for affection, companionship and overall activity.
- Reduced Stress: having a pet in your presence increases levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone that reduces stress. It also provides physical contact, which is another way to reduce anxiety.
- Self-Esteem boost: seniors who are discouraged by their age, appearance or limited abilities are reminded from their pets that they are still able of being loved and needed.
- Sense of Purpose: in general, the company of an animal provides reason to get up in the morning. Pets combat depression symptoms by eliminating those feelings of helplessness or worthlessness. Knowing that they are loved and needed boosts seniors’ overall mental health.
If you think that your loved one would benefit from owning a pet, there are things to consider first.
- What is the best choice for a pet? For example, if your loved one has difficulty with walking or has a limited ability to provide constant attention to a pet, a cat may be the better choice.
- First time pet owner? Because the responsibility of owning a pet could be overwhelming for a senior who has never had one before.
- Finances: make sure to consider your loved ones’ finances first as animal care can be very expensive.
- Choosing the right pet: research, research, research! Find a pet whose personality, energy, age, and size will fit well with your loved one.
With all of those benefits and considerations, pets also provide protection, which can help seniors have a peace of mind a sense of security. While breeders are a good source in finding a pet, adopting from shelters is usually less expensive and comes with the added benefits of giving an unwanted animal a home!