Having a pet can provide companionship and numerous health benefits for seniors. Instead of spending more time at home, seniors now have to regularly take their pets out for a walk which would also be a good form of exercise for them. Here are some of the ways pets can help boost seniors’ mental and physical health.
Studies have shown that seniors who have a pet or underwent pet therapy have higher confidence and self-esteem, improved social skills, and an increase in empathy, caring, and gentleness. This is because pets help their owners or people connect to others, provide companionship and help them cope with emotional and physical symptoms. If you had a dog or cat before, chances are that your dog or cat would have tried to comfort you when you were sad or crying.
These are just some of the behaviors and characteristics animals exhibit as they are highly intelligent, emotional creatures and are responsive to their surroundings including people’s pain. They can sense when a person is happy or sad, especially if that person is close to them. Pets can provide a sense of purpose for seniors and allow them to feel loved and enjoy life. This is because seniors will feel a greater sense of belonging and responsibility to care for and love their pets.
Sharing a pet also helps to reduce stress and loneliness levels, and reduces the risk of depression. This is because bonding with an animal and spending time with it releases serotonin, which is a hormone that makes us happy. Serotonin increases positivity and lowers our blood pressure. Setting aside time regularly to care for our pets, such as grooming, feeding, and cleaning it provides seniors with a sense of fulfillment. This is just one of the reasons why having a structure and routine for taking care of a pet can be useful for seniors.
Pets also provide seniors with a sense of comfort and safety. Many seniors, and especially those who live alone, may have difficulties going out at night or sleeping well because they are afraid. They feel defenseless and are afraid of being kidnapped or attacked. Dogs allow people to feel much safer and protected, thereby resulting in better sleep for their owners and having peace of mind.
Different pets require different levels of physical activity. Walking your dog regularly or bringing your pet out for exercise can be beneficial for you. This is because frequent exercise causes you to be more mentally alert, reduces your weight, increases your heart and bone health, and increases Vitamin D exposure. Increased physical activity will reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases and ensure that your muscles and joints are healthy. The physical activity of bringing your dog out for a walk would also allow you to build new relationships and socialize. This could occur if you decide to bring your dog to a dog park and interact with other dog owners to learn more about different breeds of dogs or to share some of your challenges. You are therefore able to enjoy numerous opportunities to make friends with people you would never have thought of if not for your dog.