Pets deliver joy during every stage of our lives, but especially as we age. Studies show that pairing a pet with the senior in your life can be more beneficial than you may think. Here are the top two benefits of pet ownership for seniors.
•Lonely No More
During the pandemic, we’ve been reminded of a simple fact—humans are social beings, and one can be the loneliest number that you’ll ever know. That’s why pet adoptions have skyrocketed. One in five households -over 23 million homes- have added a new dog or cat to the family since the start of the pandemic.
With a pet, seniors are never truly alone. All it takes is a simple head tilt or tail wag for dogs and cats to relay that they’ve heard what’s been said, or appreciate a cuddle.
Seniors with dogs also have an increased likelihood of engaging in social activities, too, because dogs like to get out and about. A walk in the park or sitting with your pooch on the porch makes it easy to talk with neighbors, creating connections and improving socialization.
According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership can provide health benefits for seniors. It boosts overall fitness, well-being and happiness, while lowering stress, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Pet owners who walk their dogs get up to 30 minutes more exercise than non-walkers. Even light exercise, like tossing a ball or playing fetch for 10-15 minutes, makes a difference in health and mood.
Best Pets for Seniors?
Older dogs are often a good match for seniors because they’re less rambunctious than puppies or younger dogs. They also demand less immediate action (like racing to get a puppy outside to do his business) and less training. Small dogs are a safer option for frail folk. For seniors in a small apartment or who are less mobile, a cat or gold fish may be the best option.
Pets are living creatures, and must be properly cared for. Before getting a pet for the senior in your life, confirm that he or she can make the commitment of time, attention and finances required.