5 Benefits for Seniors Owning Pets

happy-adult-woman-with-dogAfter the children have left the nest and in the years following retirement, the benefits of seniors owning pets become much more clear. Numerous studies are purporting the various mental, emotional and overall health benefits of owning a pet.

5 wonderful benefits of seniors owning pets

1) Gives seniors a sense of purpose. Pets need to be taken care of. They need to be fed and let out daily, as well as taken for walks on a regular basis. Litter boxes need to be cleaned twice weekly for non-clumping litter and monthly for clumping litter. Additionally, be sure to scoop the litter box once or twice a day. Being responsible for a pet’s well-being can improve an individual’s morale and overall mood. For seniors that have lost a spouse, having a four-legged companion not only helps beat the loneliness, but also helps them remain more active.

2) Helps improve senior health. Studies show that seniors with pets have fewer doctor’s visits. According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, interactions — including talking to and petting a dog — result in lower blood pressure in the person, even more so than human-to-human conversation. Seniors who own pets also experience lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease, and a lower prevalence of obesity, according to the American Heart Association.

3) Acts as a social magnet. Pets, particularly dogs, help seniors connect with other people. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pets can be an important source of social support for people, complementing human social support.

4) Increases the physical activity levels of seniors. Seniors with dogs usually engage in more physical activity than their non-dog-owning senior counterparts because they need to walk them. In one study of more than 5,000 adults, dog owners were 50 percent more likely to get the recommended amount of physical activity than non-dog owners.

5) Stimulates the mind in a positive way. Caring for a pet can encourage a healthy mind and memory. New pets, in particular, need a lot of attention, especially with training. However, all pets need care and attention, including being organized with feeding, exercising, and letting them out. What’s more, it can be mentally stimulating for a senior to read up on an animal or type of breed that they own.

Dawn Marcus, a neurologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, noted that seniors who walk dogs tend to have a healthier focus on the present compared to non-dog owners who tend to focus on their health problems and the past.

If owning a pet is not an option for a senior due to physical limitation or housing restrictions, they can still enjoy many of the benefits of animal interactions through therapy dog visits.

Need more tips caring for your senior loved one? Please call us at 508.679.6172 today.


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