23 Mar Top 6 Benefits of Philly Seniors Having Pets at Home
Owning a pet has many benefits for all people. Studies have shown that there are even more positive benefits for seniors.
Helping to prevent loneliness, decreasing stress and anxiety, and even lowering blood pressure: pets can have a positive impact on our overall health as we get older. For all these reasons and more, many elders decide not to relocate to assisted living facilities or other senior housing. They just cannot part with their pets.
April 11 is National Pet Day, a day set aside to celebrate the wonderful benefits of pets and the people who help care for them. To celebrate National Pet Day, we review the 6 benefits that seniors get from owning pets.
Pets Can Lower Stress
A National Poll on Healthy Aging survey found that 79% of senior pet parents said that their pets helped them reduce stress. A 2002 study on the connection between cardiovascular health and pets found that “people with pets had significantly lower heart rate and blood pressure levels,” especially when their furry friends were around. The study concluded, “People perceive pets as important, supportive parts of their lives, and significant cardiovascular and behavioral benefits are associated with those perceptions.”
Pets Can Boost Your Mood
Studies have demonstrated that there are powerful mental and emotional benefits to owning a pet. Pet parents are generally happier, not as lonely, and tend to be more trusting. Companion pets can also give you a sense of meaning and boost your self-esteem, and they provide you with positive mental energy by raising serotonin and dopamine levels while reducing cortisol. Research published by a team of psychologists found that “belongingness is considered a central need for people. If pets are ‘psychologically close’ to their owner, they may provide well-being benefits for the owner just like any other person.”
Pets Can Ease Pain
Chronic pain disproportionately affects seniors. Pets can be lifesavers for people with chronic pain. Caring for a dog or cat helps distract the mind from pain and shifts the focus onto another living being who needs care and attention. Teaching a dog tricks and commands makes them easier to control.
It also helps someone with chronic pain train their pet to help them with some everyday chores such as retrieving dropped items and fetching things. Pets can also help by simply laying next to an aching joint to provide warmth and relief. In fact, 2 in 5 of seniors in pain reported that their pets help them take their minds off of their pain.
Pets help seniors stick to a routine.
Owning and caring for pets helps elders stick to a routine. This is because pets need to be fed at regular intervals, with regular walks, etc. A routine can help instill purpose and meaning. Indeed, 73 percent of owners said that pets help provide them with purpose. In short, for seniors that can manage, the routine needs of their pets can provide meaning that can also keep up their cognitive abilities.
Pets make seniors more sociable.
Social isolation is a major concern among elders. Loneliness and isolation can not only impact mental health but also physical health as well. Pets can provide a critical source of companionship and connection. There’s a reason that dogs are called “a man’s best friend.” In addition, pets can help their owners stay connected to others. 65 percent of people reported as such in a National Poll on Healthy Aging.
Pets keep aging adults active.
Pets can improve physical fitness. The Journal of Physical Activity & Health proved that dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without dogs. Additional research found that adults were more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking per week than non-dog owners. Owning a dog can promote health and fitness outside of walks as well through other play activities.
Read more about some ways seniors can stay active here and here.
As you can see, pets of all kinds can be highly beneficial for seniors. Pets come with varying levels of responsibility, so it is important that seniors and loved ones understand the needs of their pets and are up for the task.
Pets can be a level of support, and home care can as well. Chosen Family Home Care can be the compassionate provider of caregivers and home care to help you or your loved one age in place and with dignity right here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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