There’s no denying that pets are a great addition to any home, regardless of the size of the family who lives there. Pets bring something special to our lives that is hard to explain with words, and most pet owners would agree that a life without a furry sidekick is simply lacking.
While we agree that pet ownership is great for anyone of any age, numerous studies have demonstrated that the benefits of owning a pet are especially noticeable in senior citizens. Here are a few of the things we know for sure about the potential advantages of pet ownership for seniors:
Companionship and Purpose
By the time our elderly friends reach their “golden years”, it’s safe to assume that the large majority of them have some pretty impressive achievements under their belt. They remember everything from their first job at 15 years old to the day they retired… and everything between. They’ve watched their families grow, and the little ones they once cared for have moved on to form families of their own. So, it stands to reason that, by comparison, the senior years can come along with a good bit of loneliness and boredom.
Owning a pet will give your senior family member a new “someone” to care for, as well as a renewed purpose in life. Caring for a pet can be a full-time job, but its rewards are tenfold.
Exercise and Getting Outside
Pets require attention in a lot of ways, and one of the biggest influencing factors in their overall well-being is physical activity. For dogs, that often means daily walks or playing in the yard. For cats, it may mean playing chase around the house or jumping in and out of boxes.
Whatever activity they prefer is extremely likely to require the involvement of their owner, which means that your senior family member will also be walking more or taking time to throw a ball around the yard. It’s a great way to get your loved one moving!
Enhanced Social Life
At any age, we all have need for some level of social interaction. In our younger years, we meet these needs through our daily activities, such as making friends with coworkers, team mates, or neighbors. It’s an unfortunate truth that the need for social contact is often not met for elderly people, especially those who have outlived their spouses and friends.
Pets give us a reason to get involved in something worthwhile. We take them to training classes, the dog park, pet-friendly events, and just about anything else you can think of. Participation in these types of activities often leads to just the kind of social interaction that our senior friends need.
Other benefits of pet ownership for seniors include an increased sense of personal safety, stress management, lower blood pressure, and more.
If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a senior pet for an elderly family member, check out The Pets for the Elderly Foundation for more information.