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Alert1 Highlights the Benefits of Household Pets

Updated 7/22/15 4:02pm | Many of our Alert1 members are proud pet owners. Although I talk to many people who own pets, not all of them realize that pets can improve your health. I've read several studies that suggest pet ownership can do everything from help keep you active to reduce feelings of loneliness. The friendship that pets offer is essential to older-adults living alone. You will be pleasantly surprised by the potential health and safety benefits associated with being a pet owner.

A Sense of Comfort for Your Loved One

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.  An animal may provide your loved one with the companionship they're yearning for or help create a sense of purpose and satisfaction they may not have enjoyed otherwise. It only takes a few minutes petting your cat, playing with your dog, or watching your fish swim to feel less anxious and less stressed. 

Pets can also be highly sensitive to the needs of their owners. For instance, you may have heard of pets that perform miraculous rescues during home fire emergencies.  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.

rescue dog/ life saving alert

Boost Your Happiness with a Pet

As seen in many studies, spending time with pets lowers level of cortisol (the hormone associated with stress). As a result, levels of serotonin raise higher and (the chemical associated with personal well-being and happiness).  Some people even find that sitting with their small dog or cat in their lap provides soothing heat for chronic pain. In general, owning a pet makes people feel better. Pure and simple.

senior meal prep/ med alert button

Regular Exercise with Your Furry Companion

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. What better way to encourage your senior than having to take their pooch on regular walks? Getting regular exercise can help keep your blood pressure in check, lower your cholesterol, and manage your arthritis. It is common for older adults to struggle with one or more of these things.

Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which strengthens your bones and the muscles around them. Walking a dog will also get your loved one out into the sunshine and fresh air more frequently. They’ll benefit from some extra vitamin D which aids in calcium absorption. 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!

senior exercise/ alert1

Paws Up If You Want A Pet!

Of course, there are certain things you should take into consideration before encouraging your loved one to get a pet. Most significantly, you have to be sure you’re capable of caring for a pet. If you have a chronic condition that limits their mobility, a dog may not be the best idea. Rabbits and hamsters are low-maintenance pets as they clean themselves. Did we mention rabbits and hamsters are good for seniors on a fixed budget!?

That being said, the average American household is in favor of dogs and cats for household pets. Know that, certain breeds of dogs are better for senior living than others. Size and temperament are important considerations when choosing a dog for your loved one. Pugs, corgis and terriers are among the top breeds for seniors. With any pet, be certain you spay and neuter them. Also remember to check if you have any animal related allergies to dander or pet hair. 

Pets love their owners unconditionally and having a pet is considered to be good for the body and mind. Does your elderly loved one have a pet? How has it helped them stay healthy?


7:24 AM on November 10, 2012 Chechu Chechu
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