For elderly persons who live at home alone or even in a group facility, owning a pet can provide stress reduction, result in lower blood pressure, encourage social interaction and physical activity, and prompt the desire to do research and learn about their pet.
Studies have found a connection between cardiovascular health and pets. A study titled Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: the truth about cats and dogs, concluded, “People perceive pets as important, supportive parts of their lives, and significant cardiovascular and behavioral benefits are associated with those perceptions.”
Pets also live in the present moment, which can help seniors to do the same. This can provide comfort to the elderly who sometimes become a bit uneasy when thinking about the future.
Owning a pet and enjoying their loving companionship can also help to reduce depression and lessen feelings of loneliness.
Studies have shown that there are strong emotional benefits to owning a pet. Research published by a team of psychologists at both Miami University and St. Louis University found that “belongingness is considered a central need for people. If pets are ‘psychologically close’ to their owner, they may provide well-being benefits for the owner just like any other person.”
Studies into the benefits of owning a pet have also found that pets can help those who are dealing with chronic pain, like arthritis, and help to reduce the anxiety caused by the pain.
Of course, the decision to get a pet is not one to be taken lightly, and many things should first be considered. Here are a few things to be considered:
- What kind of pet is best suitable for you or your loved one?
- Have you ever had a pet before and if not, is this too much to take on?
- Do you have any physical limitations that would impede your ability to properly care for a pet?
- Are there any financial limitations that would be further stressed with owning a pet?
The goal is to help our aging population live healthier, more fulfilling lives, and owning a pet may be the answer.