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  • Writer's pictureChristian Companions

Pets Can Help Improve Senior Health

For those of us with pets, there’s hardly a need to discuss the benefits they offer to us. But many of the seniors in our lives could do with a loyal companion for a whole lot of reasons. Not only do they offer friendship and something to care for and nurture, but they can also help us deal with anxiety, stress, and other emotions.

But going out and adopting a dog and just gifting it to the senior in your life isn’t exactly the best course of action. You have to find the right kind of animal for your elder. Things like their lifestyle, the space available, and their budget are all important factors to consider when getting a pet for the senior in your life.

Purposeful Activity

Exercise is a crucial component to anyone’s health regimen and especially for seniors. And It’s no secret that we should all probably be exercising a little more than we currently do. That’s where having a pet can help. By having a pet that requires you to walk or even just play around with, our little fluff balls encourage the seniors in our life to be a little more active.

Dogs, especially medium to large sized dogs, really love to get out and stretch their legs. They may become restless staying cooped up inside a house all day long. Even the most sedentary of seniors will have trouble saying no to tail wags and hand licks asking to go outside for a walk.

Going from a sedentary, homebody lifestyle to walking the dog once or even twice a day is a significant step in the right direction. Those walks will lead to increased stamina, practice with balance, and even open up social opportunities as people love meeting new dogs.

Help Manage Stress

While retirement may seem like it’s finally the stress-free period of life, the reality is hardly that bright. Seniors worry just as much, if not more, than your average person and it’s important to have stress relieving outlets to help manage it. When sports and many other physically demanding hobbies are out of the question, having a pet is a fantastic way to help manage stress.

The repetitive motion of stroking a pet’s fur has been shown to reduce stress and help calm someone down in moments of increased anxiety. Having a living thing to care for and interact with can help keep seniors from ruminating or focusing too much on worries.

Keeps Loneliness at Bay

One major issue with aging in place is the loneliness that can begin to settle in. Friends might start to become fewer and fewer as we age and social gatherings begin to dwindle. Some seniors don’t like to reach out much as they don’t want to feel like a burden to their family. This loneliness can have negative effects on their health and even exacerbate some health conditions.

Having a pet to care for and to help keep you company can help stave off bouts of loneliness and give a sense of purpose. We mentioned walking the dog or playing with the cat, and these coupled with feeding routines create a schedule that helps fill in the gaps of the day to day of an aging senior.

Moreover, there are services known as “pet therapy” or “animal assisted therapy” wherein a specifically trained animal interacts with someone for the purpose of improving a physical or mental health condition. While most commonly dogs or cats may be used, there are also pet therapy fish, pigs, horses and even peacocks!

These therapy animals have been shown to help make a patient happier and help improve their outlook on life. They can also help reduce boredom and anxiety. Therapy animals are also great with kids as they help children learn nurturing skills and improve their empathy.


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