There are many health benefits of pets for seniors. In fact, pet ownership has far more benefits than just having a great companion.
Pets are a responsibility and should only be taken on by those capable of providing sufficient care and companionship. It may seem like seniors are an inappropriate match since they may have limited mobility, memory problems, and a variety of health concerns. There may be special considerations that must be taken when adopting a pet for a senior, but in most cases a pet will be well-loved and enrich the life of a senior.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Having a Pet
These five health benefits of pet ownership for seniors are solid examples of why pet ownership is beneficial later in life.
1. Pet ownership encourages an active lifestyle for seniors.
Most seniors are not prepared to handle a large dog on leash for an intense walk, but most benefit from gentle walks with smaller, more cooperative dogs. Hyper pets may be too much for seniors who cannot be on the go all day long, but dogs and cats that enjoy long naps between play sessions and walks can be the perfect companions to seniors.
Even indoor cats can keep seniors active. They may enjoy going outside for short periods of time, they may enjoy a patch of catnip in the garden, or they may just enjoy active play in the house. All animals need exercise, and seniors have the same need. As long as the temperament of the pet is matched with the temperament of the senior, pets can keep seniors moving so their muscle does not erode, body weight is managed properly, and cholesterol levels are managed.
2. Pets lower stress and blood pressure.
Studies have shown that pet owners handle stressful situations better than non-pet owners, and it has been proven that taking care of a pet can reduce blood pressure and reduce the risks of fatal heart attacks. The existence of a pet in the home can help a senior relax and handle stress in a more efficient manner.
3. Seniors always have someone to talk to when there is a pet in the home.
Companionship is one of the biggest health benefits for senior pet owners. Many seniors struggle with loneliness, especially if they live at home alone. They are not visited on a daily basis by others, and they may not be able to make phone calls regularly. A pet is a companion that is always around, so seniors always have someone to talk to and someone who needs them for daily care. This can make life feel less lonely, even though the need for human interaction will persist.
4. Pet care can help with mental functioning.
So many people take it for granted that memory naturally slips with age, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Studies have shown that seniors who engage their brains and challenge their memory consistently suffer with less memory loss than others. Taking care of a pet on a regular schedule each day can help keep the brain active. Seniors have to remember when to feed a pet, how much to feed a pet, and when to perform other acts of care on a daily basis.
5. Pets can help seniors handle pain and other discomforts.
It is always easier to handle pain, exhaustion, and other physical discomforts if you have someone holding your hand or caressing your cheek. For seniors going through painful medical conditions, pets can serve as a soothing source of comfort. Just petting a soft cat or feeling the warmth of a dog on their lap can make pain, boredom, and other discomforts of daily life easier to endure.
They type, size, and age of a pet must be matched with the needs of a seniors. Cats are often the best choice, but as long as the pet is properly matched to the owner, there are clear health benefits of pets to be gained.