Many seniors feel isolated as they get older. They may have lost close friends or family members and there are fewer opportunities to make new friends as they age. Owning a pet can change that – particularly dogs. Since dogs are pack animals, most welcome social interaction with both people and other dogs. This encourages us to put ourselves out there as well. Pet ownership provides a common experience that becomes an instantaneous icebreaker. People tend to bond over animals. We amuse other people with their antics. We tend to brag about them like they are our children.
Pets encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Although there are times when having to get up and take the dog for a walk is an interruption, it encourages activity that helps the pet and the owner alike. The health benefits of a walk are obvious but when we see that tail wag, it is hard not to feel our mood elevate as well. Cat lovers may not find the leash part of the routine, but they still like to explore. Simply by having pets in our lives can have the effect of lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and even triglyceride levels.
Depression can be an issue as we age. Animals, however, live in the “here and now”. They don’t dwell on the uncertainties of the future. There is a lesson in that. Rather than focus on what may or may not happen tomorrow, we can try to enjoy each moment as it comes. Pets tend to restore order to our lives and link their owners to a community of caring, concern, sacrifice, and emotional relationships. Having a pet helps a senior focus on something other than physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.
Today, over two-thirds of all households in the United States own pets. For fellow animal lovers, the reason why is obvious – unconditional love. It should not be overlooked, however, that there are other benefits that are validated by numerous research studies. Animals can have a positive effect on our social lives, our health and our overall emotional well-being. For seniors, there is no better way to decrease loneliness and stress than to have a pet in their home. The best medicine can have four legs and a tail.
Animals can enhance our lives in many ways. If you don’t already have a fuzzy friend, consider adopting. There are many organizations that specialize in matching seniors with older pets that are already trained. While and older dog may no longer have the exuberance of a puppy, they also won’t need to be potty-trained and they are less likely to chew on your shoes.