Health Benefits of Pets for Seniors
Pets bring unconditional love, companionship, and entertainment for owners both young and old! Particularly for seniors, animal companionship is an effective way to enrich lives and keep feelings of isolation and loneliness at bay. Below are a few of the key health benefits of pets for seniors!
Improves Mental Health
Loneliness can be a normal part of the aging process for many seniors, and studies show that chronic loneliness has the potential to negatively impact health, including risk of heart attack, stroke, depression and early death. Pet ownership directly leads to a happier and more social life. According to an article by A Place for Mom, caring for a cat or dog helps seniors overcome depression or loneliness.
Keeps Seniors Active
Pets help seniors establish routines that keep them active and consistent. Dogs need to be walked, fed, groomed, and played with. Daily walks or playing fetch can help seniors maintain a fitness regimen and also give a sense of purpose. Other pets, like cats or birds, also need frequent play time and interaction. These tasks help seniors feel useful, and that is vital for a good quality of life.
Helps Heart Health
It’s no secret our furry friends can warm our hearts, but they can also help protect them. Many studies have found strong correlations between animal interaction and an improvement in physical health, including healthier blood pressure and improved mobility. A study reported by Aging in Place found that pet owners generally have lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels than people who do not own pets. With stronger heart health, seniors and their pets can live healthily together for longer.
Pets, especially dogs, have been found to be excellent facilitators for social interaction, new friendships, and conversations with others outside the home. Taking a pet for a walk or to the park can easily become a social activity, sparking up conversations and helping to create friendships. The National Institute of Health states that people who have more social contact and more friends live longer and are unlikely to decline as quickly as those who do not.
One of the biggest concerns family members may have when a loved one moves to a senior living community is how to help them maintain a happy social life. At pet friendly communities like Enlivant, a perfect solution is to encourage your loved one to bring along their beloved four-legged friend.