There are few joys life can bring like the love of a pet, regardless of age. Wagging tails and gentle purrs are comforting. Caring for a pet takes time, dedication, attention, and care, which many seniors have in abundance. Beyond the cuteness factor, pets and seniors are a perfect match for many other reasons, most importantly, the mutual love and companionship. It’s a well-known fact that pets enrich our lives, and for seniors this has proven to be particularly beneficial.
Benefits of Having a Pet
We all love our pets, but scientific research has discovered many health benefits associated with being a pet parent. Researchers have discovered that for many, pets can increase the production of positive hormones in the brain and reduce negative hormone production. For some, this results in:
- Reduced stress
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol
For seniors, pet ownership brings a range of benefits. Depression rates increase as we age, and pet owners more frequently engage in activities that are known to ward off feelings of melancholy. Higher activity level, mental stimulation, and socialization are key to fighting depression. Pet ownership also leads to a more active lifestyle. Whether walking the dog or playing with a cat, the physical activity carries powerful benefits. Shopping for pet supplies can make seniors more likely to get out of the house, and pet-friendly restaurants, stores, and parks offer an outlet for socializing. Researching what is best for your pet, training tactics, or specific breed information can provide mental stimulation.
Warmth and Companionship
In addition to the physical and mental benefits of sharing life with a furry friend, pets provide an intangible quality to our lives. Companionship, especially as we age, is vitally important. Many seniors live alone and may have limited interaction with friends and family. Pets can fill this void and give seniors living alone comfort and companionship.
Pets can provide seniors a renewed sense of purpose. It’s common for seniors to feel adrift when entering the retirement years, and more seniors than ever are divorced and living alone. Caring for your pet can provide a powerful motivation for self-care. By taking care of yourself, you are also looking after those who depend on you – in this case, a furry friend.
Pet Ownership – What to Consider
There are many points to consider prior to getting a pet, especially for seniors. Previous experience as a pet parent is beneficial to a senior planning to bring a dog or cat into their lives. Puppies and kittens require a great deal of work and training. Adoption of an adult rescue animal is a great alternative and can save a dog or cat from being euthanized. Uniting a person and an older pet can provide an increased level of comfort and contentment. Consider physical ability when choosing a pet. A person with mobility issues is obviously not the best candidate for a larger breed of dog that requires constant exercise. Cats and birds are great alternatives for those with substantial physical limitations.
Peace of Mind About Pet Health – and Your Own.
For seniors considering potential pet ownership and who live with health or mobility issues, a medical alarm provides peace of mind, knowing that your pet will not suffer should you have a health emergency. A medical alarm will be activated if a fall or other medical issue occurs. With the addition of GPS tracking, medical alarms can provide support while walking your dog, or at any location where an in-home system would be out of range. Check out the features of various types of systems by reading reviews to identify the medical alarm that would work best for you or your loved one.