Senior Citizens Benefit from Pet Ownership
We all have a basic need to love and to be loved. Having a pet is one of the best ways to meet our emotional needs, especially for senior citizens, who may be less mobile and have few human companions. One of the nicest things about pets is that although they grow older, they never really “grow up” like children do; they always remain “your baby,” needing to be taken care of no matter what age. This gives people a greater sense of purpose and companionship. Pets are like emotional vitamins; you feel better psychologically and emotionally being around them, which makes every system in your body function more effectively. People over the age of 65 who are particularly vulnerable to loneliness and stress-related diseases can reap enormous benefits from having a pet.
FUN FACTS—PETS ARE BENEFICIAL TO OUR HEALTH
- Seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less than those who do not. In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed dog owner had 21 percent fewer physicians visits than any non-dog-owner.
- Seniors who own pets coped better with stressful life events without having to go to the doctor.
- Furthermore, they are more likely to keep up with daily activities than those without pets.
- Pet owners have better overall physical health due to exercising with their pets.
- Pet owners have lower blood pressure, lower triglyceride levels and lower cholesterol levels than those living without pets.
- Medication costs dropped from an average of $3.80 per patient per day to just $1.18 per patients per day in new nursing home facilities in New York, Missouri and Texas that have animals and plants as an integral part of the environment
- Having a pet may decrease heart attack mortality by 3%. This translates into 30,000 lives saved annually!
- Pets dramatically decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. Animal-assisted therapy effectively reduces the loneliness of residents in long-term care facilities, as well as increases their social interactions.
- People with borderline hypertension had lower blood pressure on days they took their dogs to work.
- Dogs are preventative and therapeutic measures against everyday stress.
THINGS FOR THE ELDERLY WITH PETS TO CONSIDER
- Have a contingency plan for the care of your pets. Have a card on you, in your vehicle and at home that has the following information about your pets: Names and physical descriptions; Where they like to hide, etc; Any medications pet is taking and where it is located; Your vet’s info; Your emergency contact’s info (who can take care of your pets if you are unable to)
- Have transportation set up from friends or relatives if you do not drive. Have the name of a taxi or pet transport handy in case of an emergency.
- Elevated feeders are available to help with having to bend over to feed your pets.
- Ask neighbors and friends, or hire a pet sitter, to help walk your pets if you are unable to.
- Discuss medicating your pets with your veterinarian. Many medications come in liquid form, which can be easier to give than pills. Compounding pharmacies will also formulate liquid medications not traditionally available.
ENCOURAGE THE SENIORS IN YOUR LIFE TO ADOPT A PET TODAY!
Adopting an older pet has enormous benefits because they’re generally more tame and easy to deal with—also, they’ll show you much gratitude for giving them a second chance at life!
Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.