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10 Benefits of Pets for Older People

CatAs people grow older, their needs change, and they may want to look into getting a pet to make their life a bit easier and happier. We are going to look at some of the benefits that older people can enjoy from having pets in the home. There are a number of them that you might not be aware of, and any older people who are on the fence about owning a pet may change their mind after reading this list.

Companionship

Everyone knows that pets make great friends. Older people can feel lonely as those around them pass on and family members grow more distant. They may just start to drift away from the people in their life in their old age, and it can help to always have someone near them to make them feel not so alone. Pets can meet that need and fill that role very well.

Therapy

Pets are often used in therapeutic scenarios to help people open up about problems, deal with depression, or simply have someone to talk to. For seniors, dogs give them another presence in the home, and they can feel like they have someone to communicate with. The pet may not have much to say back, unless it’s a parrot, but seniors can talk to their pet. That in itself is therapeutic, and it makes people feel less awkward than talking to someone who is not present.

Something to Do

Having a pet means that seniors will have some responsibilities in their daily life. They have to feed, water and play with the pet. They may need to clean or groom their pets as well, and these daily chores can keep them occupied and make them feel not so bored. They can also keep them active and give them a purpose each day.

An Active Life

For some larger pets, such as dogs and cats, the owner will need to spend some time playing with the animals and making sure it gets enough exercise. Seniors may run with their dog or use cat toys to interact with their feline friend. Pets can help them to be more active, even if that means just doing small tasks like feeding the pet. That activity is good for seniors, as it stimulates them and helps to keep them in good health.

Reduce Stress

Pets are natural stress relievers. People who have pets around tend to release a hormone known as oxytocin. When this hormone is released, it lowers stress levels, and it can actually be released by both humans and animals. So, without even knowing it, pets and their owners can be helping one another in natural ways that improves both of their lives.

Helping at Home

Pets can also be helpers. Dogs are great for finding things that were lost or retrieving things in hard to reach places. Animals can also alert people nearby if something happens to their owner. Dogs may howl and cats may meow if their owners are hurt or incapacitated. This can tell people nearby that something is wrong.  

Protection

Some pets provide protection for seniors, giving them peace of mind and a sense of security. We are mostly talking about dogs here, as their barking can ward off potential invaders and their very presence can be a deterrent to burglars. Certain kinds of dogs make better guards and protectors than others, though. However, even cats and birds can make enough noise and be ferocious enough to keep intruders away or to raise the alarm when their owner is in danger. Some of them can even fight back, such as geese and other large birds.

Healthy Weight

By being more active thanks to pet ownership, many seniors actually lose weight or experience fewer weight-related problems. The active lifestyle that owning pets brings can do wonders for the body and help people to live longer and enjoy their life more.

Routine

Getting into a routine is great for seniors. It helps establish some order in their life. If seniors don’t do much each day, then they can become slow and lethargic. They may not think as quickly, because their mental capacity may be diminishing. After all, if you don’t use your brain often, then it will start to weaken. This is why it is so beneficial for seniors to have pets. They can get used to doing chores each day or taking care of their pet and set up a routine that eliminates chaos in their life and helps them to stay more mentally and physically active. That routine can preserve sanity for many people, and it is one of the key reasons why pets are so invaluable for seniors.

Doing More

Pet owners tend to be more active and do more things the seniors who do not own pets. That’s because having a pet means you need to let them get some fresh air, perhaps take your dog for a walk or having pet dates where you take your pet to another pet owner’s house. All of this activity means that pet owners are doing things with their time and with their life. Seniors that own pets will go more places and see more things, getting to experience more from life and hopefully have a better life.

There are all sorts of reasons for seniors to jump into pet ownership. Certain kinds of animals will work better for some people than for others. Seniors should take the time to look at what animals are available and the pros and cons of each kind of animal they could get. Then they can make their decision based on the research they have done. Whatever animal they choose, they will not regret bringing it into their life. A pet can make a huge difference, as we have touched on with 10 different reasons here.

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