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Pets Helping Seniors Live Longer

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Unlike a stuffed animal or the second husband that Mary parodies, your pet is always happy to see you. They may express their enjoyment by wagging their tail, barking/purring or rubbing up against you, but one thing is for sure and it is that pet ownership can have an extremely positive impact on the life of an elderly person, especially ones that lives alone.

As people begin to age, their children leave the house, friends and loved ones may pass, and the companionship of an animal can be therapeutic.  As a matter of fact, Assisted Living Communities have begun to integrate pet therapy programs, and more residences are allowing seniors to bring their companion animals with them.

Although all pet owners experience some emotional benefit, pets have a large impact on enriching the lives of the older population. Research has shown that seniors who own pets experience the following benefits:

  • Reduces depression, anxiety and stress: Many owners open up to pets easier than humans because animals are always there to listen and are loyal; they (the senior) become less worried about little things that would normally bother them. Accordingly, pet ownership has been proven to reduce stress related conditions like high blood pressure.
  • Encourages regular exercise: Dog walking engages seniors in a gentle activity as many as two to three times a day; mentally, exercise eases anxiety, sharpens memory and inspires creativity.
  • Provides protection: For your senior loved one that lives alone, in their residence, a dog can alert their owner to potential intruders or possibly get help in the event of a critical situation such as heart attack.
  • Gives a sense of purpose: Having a pet to feed and care for gives seniors a renewed sense of responsibility when they no longer have family to care for.
  • Provide therapy: One of the major difficulties of Alzheimer’s disease is that seniors sometimes express anger in the form of yelling, swearing and other anxiety. During the initial stages of Alzheimer’s pets allow senior to keep their regular routines and live a normal life.

If there is one thing that is certain a furry-friend will love your senior loved one unconditionally and the benefits of pet ownership are immeasurable. Keep one thing in mind though, if your senior loved one is considering getting a pet, have a plan for someone to take care of your pet if they travel or become sick, that way you can be assured that your pet will always be taken care of and loved. Take that Mary!


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