The Benefits of Elderly Owning Pets

Studies have shown that owning a pet may help you live a longer, healthier and happier life thanks to the complex ways that animals can affect human emotions. A study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society suggested that elderly people who live with pets tended to be healthier both physically and mentally than those who didn’t. Plus, the experimental residential home Eden Alternative has filled their facility with over 100 birds, cats, dogs, rabbits and chickens and has proven to have a 15% lower mortality rate than other traditional nursing homes.

Pets can provide companionship

Pets can give older people a sense of purpose and provide companionship to those who would otherwise live alone. They protect older people against a sense of social isolation and the negative emotions this can cause. For young people who live alone, it’s easier to get out and maintain a social life but older people, particularly those with health and mobility problems, sometimes the only company they will have on a daily basis is their pet. A pet will give unconditional love and affection no matter what.

Allows owners to be more active

All pets need feeding, watering and grooming and sometimes even walking so they encourage their owners to be more active on a daily basis. Any activity can promote cardiovascular health for the elderly and helps to keep their joints flexible and limber. Even if it seems like a minor exercise, doing it frequently will benefit the way that they’re able to carry out the tasks they have to do in the home.

They can reduce stress and depression

The emotional benefits of owning a pet will probably be more noticeable than the physical benefits. By reducing loneliness, pets can in turn reduce the effects of depression that can often occur in the elderly if they are not close to any family or friends. Touching an animal that is your pet has been proven to reduce levels of stress and anxiety because you experience feelings of calmness and affection.

Something to focus on

Owning a pet gives an elderly person a sense of responsibility that they may feel they are lacking, particularly if their children have grown up and moved away. All pets will need feeding, grooming and generally caring for and this can be a huge but rewarding thing for elderly people to focus on and relieve boredom. Plus, animals are non-judgemental in their interactions with people and the positive attention that pets will give to their owners can help to keep them happy and restore feelings of self-worth that they may have lost over the years. Everyone wants to feel needed, and seniors are no exception.

Give a sense of security

If an elderly person lives alone they can often feel afraid and owning a pet can give them a sense of security that they need. Dogs, in particular, can warn off intruders and alert seniors to the presence of people that may be at their door.

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