Getting older can bring on challenges with one’s mental and physical state. Friends and loved ones may not come as often to visit, and you can become lonely, and depressed. One way to battle loneliness is by getting a companion that loves you unconditionally and is always by your side, a pet. Research shows that owning a pet comes with many health benefits. They help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and more. A pet is a perfect companion because they bring happiness to their owners, and help you to live a healthier, more social life.
Live Longer & Happier
Owning a pet as you age comes with many benefits:
- Boosting Your Physical Activity- Seniors should be exercising around 3 hours a week, or 30 minutes a day. What better way to accomplish this than with walking your dog?
- Reducing Stress– Studies have shown that owning a pet reduces your blood pressure, and stress. Animals live in the moment of the here and now, and that sense of calm rubs off onto their owners. A study stated that pet owners who look into a dog’s eyes for at least five minutes get a boost of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, in the brain
- Adding Structure– Building a routine is good for older adults as they age. It brings some stability and structure to their day to day life. Animals provide this by needing to be fed on a schedule, taken out for a walk, and be played with twice a day for a minimum of 15 minutes. It gives their owners a sense of purpose and a reason to get up and do things.
- Making You More Sociable– Taking your dog for a walk can lead to conversations with other people walking their own dogs, and even create new friendships. A study showed that 65% of pet owners claimed that their animals helped them connect with other people. This reduced their feelings of isolation, and extended their life expectancy.
“I’ve seen those with memory loss interact with an animal and regain access to memories from long ago,” Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld explained. “Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than their physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.”
The Numbers Don’t Lie
A national survey, conducted by the AARP and the University of Michigan, surveyed 2,051 adults aged 50 to 80. More than half of the respondents reported owning a pet. About 88% said that their pets helped them enjoy life, and 86% said their pets made them feel loved. Furthermore, 79% of senior pet parents said that their pet reduced their stress. Among the surveyed seniors who lived alone and/or reported fair or poor physical health, 72% said their pets helped them cope with physical or emotional symptoms.
Things To Think About When Choosing A Pet
When you are considering choosing a pet, there are various things to take into account. One is taking your limitations into account, because they could affect your pets needed exercise such as going for a walk. Other things to consider are:
- The Age Of A Pet– A puppy or kitten may not be best for an older adult because of needed training. If you cannot care for a dog or cat, then consider a bird.
- Finances– Pets are not cheap and can be expensive with routine vet visits, and food for the animal. See if it fits within your budget first.
- What Kind Of Pet- Would an indoor cat be your level of comfort, or an energetic dog? Some dogs are more laid back, while others are very energetic and are on the go all the time. Cats, birds, and fishes are pretty low maintenance.
There is no denying the solid research on how a pet’s companion benefits. If you do not have a pet, then seriously consider getting one, because not only will they make you feel better, but they will be by your side and love you through everything.