The Benefits of Pet Therapy on Senior Health
The twilight of our lives can bring about loneliness. As we have discussed, the ability to avoid this loneliness is one of several reasons that a senior or assisted living solution trumps living alone.
Pets are another great source of companionship for seniors. This is not new information; however, according to the American Animal Health Hospital Association, the companionship provided by pets can actually improve senior citizens’ health! Many assisted living communities across the country have begun integrating pet therapy into their care options, and more still are beginning to allow seniors to bring their pets with them.
According to research performed by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in May of 1999, seniors who live alone, but have a pet, display signs which indicate better physical and mental health than their non-pet-owning counterparts.
Beyond the Cuddle-Factor
Some of the ways that pets influence health seem obvious; anyone who has ever held a puppy understands the magical emotions that the little pup congers. Those happy emotions promote relaxation, which, in turn, promote mental health. Pets keep our minds off of our problems, and as we get older, we tend to have more problems, namely, health problems.
But scientists have been able to show how the companionship of a pet can have real physiological benefits. We all know that pets need to be walked, fed, groomed, and have all of their basic needs met by their owner. These activities require some sort of engagement and action on the part of the owner. These actions, no matter how slight, can have incredible positive impacts on the senior’s cardiovascular system, and help keep joints limber and flexible.
While these health benefits make pet ownership for seniors seem like a no-brainer, there are some important things to consider before introducing a pet into your life. As with anyone considering getting a pet, seniors should ask themselves the following questions before making their decision:
Do I want the responsibility?
Am I capable of performing the tasks I will need to perform (feeding, walking, grooming, etc.)?
Am I a cat person, a dog person, or neither?
Once the decision is made to get a pet, we recommend adoption from your local humane society. For seniors in particular, choosing to adopt a puppy or kitten could prove disastrous. We recommend looking into adopting an older pet, as they tend to require far less energy and commitment.
Are you a senior or a senior care taker with experience adopting a pet? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
About Senior Path:
We are a professional, senior housing advisory service which provides personal attention to Seniors and their families. We employ a staff of talented, caring Advisors who have vast experience helping Seniors and their families through this transition. Our Advisors have extensive backgrounds in the Senior Care industry enabling them to understand what Seniors want and need.