Pets make great companions no matter what age you are. They can be especially beneficial for the elderly as they lift your spirits, stave off loneliness, and even improve your cardiovascular health.
The benefits of pets for the elderly will vary depending on which animal you choose. While dogs offer the listening ear and loyal support of a close friend, cats can be captivating and entertaining.
Meanwhile, taking care of a fish, bird, or another creature gives you an interesting new hobby. At the same time, your pet’s enclosure may provide a bright focal point for your home.
How Animal Companionship Helps
Having a pet will undoubtedly add interest and bring color to your life as you grow older, whether you keep a pet yourself or sign up for pet therapy.
Having a pet can boost your physical and mental health
Studies have shown that having a cat or dog may improve your cardiovascular health in the following ways:
- Having a pet will likely lead to increased physical activity, which means you’ll have better fitness and brain health.
- Your cholesterol levels (lipid profiles) may go down.
- Your blood pressure may go down.
- You may enjoy better regulation of your nervous system (autonomic tone), which could strengthen your immune system.
- You may have lower responses to stress, so you feel calmer.
- You may be more likely to survive a major cardiac event (acute coronary syndrome) and may recover faster too.
Taken together, all these benefits of pets may reduce your need for medication and improve your vital signs.
Having a pet can reduce loneliness
Studies have shown that loneliness can be harmful to your physical health as well as your sense of wellbeing.
So if you can’t reach your human friends and family as easily as you used to, adopting a cat, dog, or another furry companion could potentially add years to your life. Plus, it will increase the quality of your life.
How to Decide if Having a Pet Is Right for You
Maybe you’ve had pets in the past and you’re wondering if it’s time to get another one. Perhaps you’ve never had a pet and are thinking it could work for your new lifestyle.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of pets for the elderly:
- Any kind of pet—including dogs, cats, birds, and fish—is a friendly, familiar face so you’ll never come home to an empty house.
- Any kind of pet will provide a new source of interest and keep your mind alive with new things to constantly learn.
- A dog, in particular, gives you a good reason to get out of the house, engage in exercise, and meet fellow dog lovers.
- A dog may offer you protection and reassurance when you’re home alone, especially if you’re used to spending your nights with other people.
- A dog or other animal may alert other people if you’re in trouble, such as in a fall.
3 Tips on Pet Ownership for Seniors
If you’ve decided that getting a pet is the right move for you, keep these points in mind to make sure you have a great experience:
1. Choose the right animal for you
A dog will be a fun, friendly, protective companion, and will also require frequent exercise—so it could be a great choice if you want a reason to get out and about. A cat or guinea pig might be nice to cuddle on the sofa. A colorful pair of birds or fish will brighten up your home.
2. Consider the age of the pet
A puppy or kitten will be cute and fun, but will also need training and extra care, and attention. A senior pet will be wise but may start going through some physical challenges. Adopting a teenaged or adult pet could be a great choice.
3. Note their preferred diet & common illnesses
Do some research around your chosen animal so you’ll have your cupboards stocked and some money set aside for any health issues. Make sure you feed your pet the optimal amount of the right kind of food to keep them happy and healthy.
With All the Benefits of Pets, You’ll Never Be Alone Again
Whichever pet you choose, one thing’s for sure: your house will never be empty when you get up in the morning or come back from a fun outing. A pet is a wonderful way to fill your home with new energy and interest.
Here are some extra tips to brighten your day if you find yourself spending more time on your own than you would like:
- Reach out to friends and family and see if they’re free for a catch-up.
- Join a book club or other hobby group.
- Mix your favorite television shows with your preferred social media platforms for a rich blend of entertainment and information.
- Best of all, consider getting a cat, dog, or another animal so you can find out for yourself all the benefits of pets for the elderly.