Many pet owners can attest to the advantages of sharing a home with a pet, including the health benefits they have experienced. As for whether aging adults should embrace having a pet, studies suggest that owning a pet can help you stay sharp as you age. Keep reading to learn more about the numerous health benefits — mental and physical — that can enhance your senior years.
As we age, stress has a more negative impact on us and is more noticeable. However, stress reduction is one of the best benefits of pets on mental health for seniors. Serotonin, the “feel good” hormone that lowers stress in the human body, is produced in greater quantities when a pet is present. Pets offer physical contact and create a strong emotional connection that eases anxiety.
Promote Higher Self-Esteem
Boosted self-esteem is another mental health benefit. Pets provide much-needed companionship and serve as a gentle reminder to seniors who may be feeling disheartened and isolated. Our lives have meaning when we take care of other things, and it also helps create routines in daily structure. Both people’s and animals’ mental health can benefit from that bond.
Boost Sense of Purpose
Having a pet around gives you a positive reason to get out of bed in the morning. Pets reduce feelings of helplessness or meaninglessness, which helps to reduce the symptoms of depression. Seniors’ mental health is improved when they are aware of their needs, including feeling loved and giving love.
Increase Physical Activity
Pet owners are likely to take their animals on daily walks or runs, especially if they have dogs or cats. This can be a fun and excellent way for seniors to incorporate exercise into their daily lives. In addition, pet owners can also frequently pause and engage in conversation with other pet owners during walks. Having pets can also be a great way to meet other people in places such as pet stores, training sessions, or dog parks.
Improve Time for Recovery
Pets are particularly helpful for older adults with health issues, including physical limitations. Studies show 46 percent of older adults said their pets helped to distract them from focusing on pain, while 70 percent said their pets helped them cope with physical or emotional symptoms. Pet visitation programs for patients also have been established by numerous hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and retirement communities due to pets being so good at helping us focus on the positive.