Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Owning a pet is beneficial in many ways, and we don’t only mean morning cuddles and the joy they bring into a home. Any pet owner can attest to an improved lifestyle in all aspects, from physical strength to emotional ease. In that regard, they are said to provide even more significant social benefits for older adults. According to research, 55% of adults between 50 to 80 years old own a pet. Among those interviewed, the majority claim that their pets have given them a new sense of purpose. It is only one of the many benefits they provide, along with improved health and mental clarity.
If you’re still on the fence about owning a pet, this may help you make a decision. In this article, we discuss why investing in a pet is a good decision, as well as the social benefits they provide to seniors.
1. Pets can improve your overall health.
Having a pet around your home can do wonders for your physical, emotional, and mental health. For one, multiple online studies show that frequent animal interaction lowers blood pressure and decreases cortisol levels, which is the body’s stress hormone. Moreover, pets encourage their owners to get out of the house and engage in physical activities. Dogs, in particular, need daily walks outdoors. For older adults with health conditions or static lifestyles, this could be helpful.
In terms of emotional and mental wellbeing, the presence of a pet is likely to improve your overall mood. Their company alone keeps lonely feelings at bay, as they constantly provide emotional support and comfort. This is a reassuring fact for older adults who live alone or away from family.
2. Pets make their owners more responsible people.
Given all the essentials and activities needed to maintain a pet household, older adults will benefit from movement and productivity. Not only does it force them to move around the house, but it also keeps their minds constantly working. They will need to purchase food, hygiene products, and other necessities, as well as schedule regular trips to the vet and manage their pet expenses.
That being said, the responsibility of owning a pet may cause seniors some stress. The good news is, there are a few workarounds that could help lessen the burden.
Hang a calendar to keep track of all your regular errands and appointments.
Purchase pet necessities in bulk to avoid frequent trips to the grocery store.
Invest in pet insurance. Not only does it assure you of quality healthcare and treatment for your pet, but it will significantly reduce the costs of vet visits and save you from sudden panic in case of illnesses or accidents.
3. Pets pave the way for new friendships.
One of the best things about owning a pet is belonging to a community of fellow pet owners. We recommend scheduling playdates regularly. Apart from allowing your pet to interact with other animals, it will give you the chance to form your own friendships. This social setting will positively impact your mood, stress levels, and overall well being.
4. Dogs help older adults with dementia and other mental illnesses.
Studies show that dogs, in particular, aid in improving the cognitive functions of older adults with dementia. In fact, therapy dogs are a great help in nursing homes. They mellow down tendencies of agitation, violence, and depression. They invoke feelings of happiness and comfort. Plus, they encourage social skills and pleasant behavior, like smiling and laughing.
Similarly, pets have a positive impact on children, especially those with mental disabilities. For older parents living with children, owning a pet will help create a more harmonious and less stressful home environment.
5. Pets make you feel safe.
Feeling safe and secure is important for older adults, not just physically but also emotionally. For older adults who live alone, pets may provide protection against burglars or intruders. On a more personal level, they provide a feeling of assurance against dangerous situations. The social effect on older owners is overall peace of mind and trust in the world and other people.
Owning a pet is both a luxury and a benefit, especially for the elderly. While it may add responsibilities to your life, its benefits significantly outweigh the burdens. Not only do they keep you fit and physically healthy, but they also improve your emotional and mental wellbeing. They will keep you feeling young and full of purpose, no matter your age.