Alert1 Highlights the Benefits of Household Pets

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Updated 8/17/17 3:30pm | Many of our Alert1 members are proud pet owners. But I’ve talked to many people who own pets who don’t know that pets can improve your health.

The friendship that pets offer is essential to older adults living alone. I've read several studies that suggest pet ownership can do everything from help keep you active to reduce feelings of loneliness.

Are you a pet owner? Then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the potential health and safety benefits associated with being a pet owner.

Pets Provide a Sense of Comfort for Your Loved One

cute cat and dog together

Seniors can feel isolated and alone if their partner is no longer living or their family members live a considerable distance away. Loneliness can be lethal for aging seniors, which is a key proponent in favor of pet ownership. Pets give comfort by:

  • Giving your loved one companionship. This helps create a sense of purpose and satisfaction they may not have enjoyed otherwise.
  • Lowers stress levels. It only takes a few minutes of petting a cat or dog, or watching fish swim to feel less anxious and less stressed. 
  • Are sensitive to needs of owners. Seniors that care for their pets are likely to receive more in turn as these animals are highly loyal and obedient.  

When your loved one is living with a pet, you potentially can receive an added sense of security and safety.

Learn More About Pet Safety

Pets Boost Happiness

happy dog in grass

As seen in many studies, spending time with pets lowers cortisol (the hormone associated with stress) levels. As a result, levels of serotonin (the chemical associated with personal well-being and happiness) raise higher. This reduces feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.

Some people even find that sitting with their small dog or cat in their lap provides soothing heat for chronic pain. Pure and simple, owning a pet makes people feel better. 

Pets Provide Regular Exercise

happy dog running with frisbee

An often-overlooked benefit of pet ownership is that it encourages exercise, especially when it comes to having a dog. There is ample evidence suggesting that walking helps seniors take aging in stride. Regular exercise also improves balance, reducing the risk of a senior fall. 

What better way to encourage your senior to exercise than having to take their pooch on regular walks? Getting regular exercise helps in:

  • Keeping blood pressure in check
  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • Managing arthritis pain
  • Strengthening bones and muscles
  • Getting extra vitamin D

While your loved one is outside walking their dog, they just might make a new friend. After all, one of the secrets to a healthy mind is staying engaged with others in the community!

What Pet is Right for Your Loved One?

cat lying on floor

Of course, there are certain things you should take into consideration before encouraging your loved one to get a pet. The biggest thing to make sure of is if your loved one can take care of a pet. Consider the health of your loved one to find them the perfect pet.

  • If your loved one has a chronic condition. Instead of a dog, consider a smaller pet. Rabbits and hamsters are low-maintenance pets that are also self-cleaning. Plus, they’re good for seniors on a fixed budget.
  • If your loved one doesn’t get out much. Along with smaller rodent pets, consider getting them a cat. Cats provide companionship and stress relief to your loved one.
  • If your loved one has allergies. Allergies to cats and dogs and other furry pets are quite common. Don’t be deterred- set your loved one up with an aquarium for a Zen experience.
  • If your loved one likes the outdoors. Get them a dog! But know that certain breeds of dogs are better for senior living than others. Size and temperament are important considerations—pugs, corgis and terriers are among the top breeds for seniors.

With any pet, be certain you spay and neuter them. Make sure the pet has a regular diet and any preventative flea medications if they do go outside. 

Paws Up If You Want A Pet!

cute kitten closeup

Pets love their owners unconditionally and having a pet is considered to be good for mind and body. Keep your elderly loved one happy with a pet. Watch their stress levels melt away while they stay active. Does your elderly loved one have a pet? How has it helped them stay healthy?

Get Dad a Pet Today!