Popular culture and media show us that people of all ages benefit from pets. Seniors especially benefit from this type of relationship. Pets not only enhance seniors’ lives but also improve their health. There are many amazing benefits that pets can bring into an elderly person’s life.
Pets provide a comfort system and help to increase the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. They have also been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels in humans and can help lower cholesterol, fight depression, and help protect against heart conditions. All great reasons for seniors to have a pet!
Pets & Loneliness
Recent studies have proven that pets can cheer up lonely seniors and enhance their quality of life. One of the most challenging aspects of aging is isolation and loss of social interaction. Many senior citizens may begin to feel cut off from the outside world and struggle with depression. Those feelings of loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and medical complications.
If you know an elderly person living alone and struggling to find the motivation to get out, ask them to pet-sit for you. See if they’d be interested in fostering a homeless pet. Or offer to come to visit them with your four-legged companion, especially those with no family near-by.
Pets in Senior Living Communities
Many senior living communities do have Pet Coordinators to help care for the animals to assure they are getting proper activity, food, medication, and love. These pet-friendly communities are thriving as pets have become community mascots and give residents reasons for social calls; all great for seniors’ stimulation.
Finding the Right Pet-Friendly Community
It’s important to do your research when choosing a pet friendly community as some communities offer dog grooming and dog walking services for many sizes and breeds, while others only allow small pets with a weight restriction (usually under 20 pounds) — limiting the pets to small birds, cats, dogs, fish or rabbits. Some communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis. So, make sure to contact your communities of choice and ask about their pet policy.
Caring for an animal stimulates physical activity and gives many people a feeling of purpose. This is very important for seniors to incorporate into their everyday lives. Pets need exercise too! This companionship often promotes the purpose and healthy living, the relationship is not one-sided; the benefits are reciprocal to both parties.
Many times, the best prescription for healthier living comes with four legs and fur. If laughter is the best medicine, then pets must be the best cure!