Pet ownership is especially beneficial for seniors. At first this may seem counterintuitive because of the care and maintenance puppies and kittens require. That must be too difficult and physically intensive for most seniors, right? Possibly, but kittens and puppies aren’t actually the type of pet that healthcare providers advocate for seniors. Instead, adult cats or dogs should be matched to seniors so that both get the most benefit from their new family member.
The health benefits a pet brings to the lives of their senior partners is astounding. Dogs require regular walks which helps encourage people who might otherwise be inclined to be less active on their own to get up and go outside, leading to improved cardiovascular health. Stress also appears to decrease in individuals who have adopted a pet. The reason for this isn’t scientifically clear, it may be because the person has someone to share their day with or because of the endorphins released when petting their cat or dog. However, reduced stress has been associated with improved recovery times after surgery or an accident.
Whether a cat or a dog is adopted the owners will have to maintain a routine. Furry friends require regular meals and walks or litter box maintenance. While it is easy to forget to feed oneself or even what day it is, pets will always remind you when they are hungry or if they want attention. Something as simple as having a predictable routine in place can help many seniors to develop their own routines and encourage them to be more proactive in their own lives, leading to a renewed interest in all aspects of their lives.
As people age, their social circle often becomes smaller. Either because children have moved away and become busy or through loss and separation of lifelong friends. While no one is suggesting that a pet can replace the companionship of other people, it can help seniors feel less alone. Feeling less alone at home is certainly a powerful benefit and can help alleviate mild depression but pets can also lead to greater levels of human companionship as well. Pets require regular trips to the veterinarian as well as to stores for food, pet treats, and toys. While these social interactions may seem trivial to those with full, or even overly scheduled, lives they can be a lifeline to those who have become increasingly reclusive.
Even if the person is unable to care for the pet full time, pet visitors can provide many of the same visits. Many assisted living facilities have found pet therapy to be an important aspect to improving the attitudes of their residents and the overall quality of life.
Pets bring joy and value to the lives of their owners, regardless of age. Consider bringing an older pet into the life of a senior you care about. Whether it is a permanent adoption or a regular visitation, pet friends can improve the health of seniors and increase overall levels of happiness.
Interested in learning more about how pet adoption for seniors is beneficial? Speak to personal consultant Kendall Van Blarcom today!