7 Benefits Of Pets For The Elderly

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Once you reach your senior years it is important to stay active and to socialize. No one can help with these two needs as a pet can. Read on and discover what are the benefits of having a pet as an elderly citizen.

Getting older can be a challenging and rather lonely path. Entering the golden ages comes with a set of problems. People are feeling lonely and life, as they knew, is far different. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to leave the house or participate in once-loved activities. Luckily, there is one source of companionship and comfort that seniors can benefit in countless ways – pets.

Benefits Of Pets For The Elderly – The Study

The recent study called Dog therapy for people with dementia: a systematic review showed interesting results that may address one of the biggest challenges in elderly – dementia. Although many pets are described as great non-pharmacological means, dogs, in particular, have been singled out as the best means to help with this condition in humans.

The outcome showed that dogs increased positive social behaviors, stronger engagement and even increased interaction among those with dementia. Also, this study showed that touches, looks, and laughing, among patients, were stimulated by dog visits. During the visits the patients were encouraged to pet dogs, touch them and even talk with them.

It was recorded that people with dementia showed a more cheerful mood and even an increase in a variety of positive social behaviors on even blood pressure, skin temperature, and heart rate. Furthermore, the psychological state of the patients is also noteworthy as DAT minimizes agitation, anxiety, apathy, and aggression. But the benefits of pets for the elderly goes beyond dementia.

The Most Common Benefits Of Dogs For The Elderly

One of the best things about dogs is that they live very much in the present. That being said, we must acknowledge that they don’t have the same life needs or worries as humans do in terms of housing, jobs, and retirement. But, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care or worry, they just do it differently.

As beings that are not loaded with the worries for tomorrow, they can be a blessing for the elderly. An animal sense of here and now tends to rub off on people. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that with their sense of ‘here and now’ pets can scare senior owners.

On the other hand, this is a great reminder for seniors to enjoy their life more and be more present in ‘here and now’ moment.

1. Pet Can Improve Communication

Dogs are great when it comes to communication. Although they may not be speaking ‘human language’ they have their ways of communicating. Therefore, dogs are great when it comes to non-verbal communication and this way of communication is great for those who suffer from conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

There was even a study in Germany that involved dogs visiting 17 nursing home residents suffering from dementia. The study found that all the participants who took part in the animal therapy had improved their verbal communication and even greater attentiveness once the program was over.

2. Pet Will Reduce Visits To The Doctor

Once you enter the senior years you can expect to spend much more time at the doctors. So, once you get a dog you can expect to see your doctor less than those without the dog.

You will be more active because you will have to walk a minimum twice a day so you will intake food that is richer in healthy nutrients to give you strength. Entirely, it will lead to a better health condition.

3. Pet Will Improve Your Mood

As you get older, your mood will change. After all, you will go through several changes that may be seen in side effects of medication, personal circumstances, and even lifestyle changes, and all of these factors together will make you feel less connected with the world around you. Therefore, you can expect to feel more connected with another being around you.

Overall, having a dog may result in reduced loneliness and in a stronger feeling of being connected. You will feel ‘interested’ and ‘inspired’.

4. Pet Will Help You To Socialise

Having a pet is never just about you two. You will have to make some serious changes to your daily routine. Therefore, you can expect to have more walks and overall richer outdoor life. So, with richer outdoor life, you will have more outdoor activities and a countless number of opportunities to be/stay active and to socialize.

Walking your dog around will make you interact with others around your neighborhood. Also, a great way to find people with common interests is to visit pet clubs and different meet-ups. Last, but not least, you will feel less lonely.

5. Pet Will Keep You Walking

Your dog will demand that you have a regular walking schedule. After all, that’s what dogs do, they love being outside. It’s important to think here about the dog’s activity level.

Depending on your overall health you should opt for the dog with medium or lower exercise needs, and avoid dogs with high energy levels, such as Basenji. The idea for having a dog here is to help you remain active and not to put you in a situation where you might hurt yourself.

6. Pet Will Give You A New Purpose

As you get older, you will see people around you are going toward their own goals and needs. The same applies to your closest friends and even family. If you are a proud father or mother, you will get to see how your children (and even grandchildren) grow and be independent.

You will need a new purpose, someone to take care of and someone to take care of your daily needs. This is where the dog steps in. With a fluffy canine, you will have a strong feeling of belonging with someone and a strong feeling of having a purpose. Once again, you will responsible for someone quality of life, including, health, nutrition, and overall happiness.

7. Pet Will Keep You Safe

Yes, the dog will keep you safe. If you are living on your own you may be a target to thieves. That being said, you should bear in mind that thieves are less likely to rob a house with a barking dog. After all, no one likes the feeling, or the sound, of the unknown.

So, anytime a dog barks everyone will think twice if they should come any near the house or not. The chances are they will just pass by.

Overall, you should bear in mind that pets can be physically demanding. Seniors do get hurt while walking their dogs and that’s something that you should think about all the time, and especially when you are choosing the right breed. There is one more thing that you should think about before you get a pet and that is – pets get expensive. It takes money to take care of your pet.

You need to provide regular and good quality food, vaccination, bed or other accessories. Also, if you are thinking about buying a puppy, you can expect to spend at least $800, in toys, food, healthcare and everything else that goes into the pet care. Think if you can spend a minimum of $500 on your pet. If you are not sure then you should think twice about getting the pet or try cutting the expenses by adopting a pet from the local shelter.

For example, if you adopt a dog you will offer someone who felt unloved how it is to be loved and to live in paradise. Therefore, you can expect to form a long-lasting bond.

How To Find The Right Pet For A Senior

Advantages of having a pet are undeniable. However, there are some drawbacks and even consequences to be aware of before you adopt a furry friend for life. Therefore, all seniors and caregivers should go through the following question before welcoming a pet into the family.

Is the senior fine with changes? If change is not something that your senior finds appealing or normal, you should think twice about welcoming a pet to his or her life. Getting a pet affects a person’s whole routine.

Have they had a pet before? It’s best if the senior is an experienced owner. But, if the senior is open to a new commitment, then first-timers can still make great owners.

Is the senior fully mobile? It’s important to note that senior must be functional because a dog or any other pet can be a challenge for individuals with limited mobility. If taking a dog outside is too trying, maybe you should think about lower-maintenance animals like cats or birds.

What age pet would be the best? Bear in mind that kitten or puppy may not be ideal for elderly owners, because they demand intensive care and playtime. Moreover, they will probably outlive their owners. It’s important to consider that some animals like birds have extremely long life spans. On the other hand, senior pets may have physical limitations. But the good thing about adult or senior pets it’s that they are already trained.

What temperament would be a good fit? It’s crucial to do first steps correctly and research different breeds characteristics and even interact with possible adoptees. Spending time with the possible pet is the best way to see if you are a good fit. Bear in mind that although there are some general truths about specific breeds, every animal is unique.

Is the pet healthy? It’s important to know the health state of your pet. Therefore, your pet should be examined by a professional before adoption. Pets carry diseases and you don’t want to compromise an older person’s immune system. Also, unhealthy pets can be difficult for seniors to handle them both emotionally and financially.

One pet or more? Multiple pets can keep each other company, but there is always a chance that pets will bond with each other rather than with their owner.

Is there a backup plan? This is not something that people love to think about, but owners have to plan. After all, being a responsible person means that you plan. Owners must plan for the unexpected for their pets as well.

For example, if a senior had to get to the hospital, move to a long-term care community, spend time in a short-term rehabilitation facility, or even passes away, what would happen with the pets? Golden years are unpredictable, therefore it’s important to have a contingency plan in place. Without one, pets may end up in a shelter and who knows if anyone will adopt them during their life.

Where To Find A New Pet For A Senior

Recognizable breeders are always a good source because you know that you will get a healthy puppy with done medical checks. However, adopting from shelters is usually much less expensive and comes with additional benefits. After all, you may provide an unwanted animal a new home and safe place from euthanasia. Some shelters will even offer lower adoption fees for older pets and 55 and up.

Besides, you can always check with shelter employees about the animal’s personality and they will help you while you are searching for the perfect match.

Benefits Of Pets For The Elderly – Summary

You can call it whatever you want: pet caring for elderly, pet therapy, or even pet-assisted therapy, but one is final – nothing beats the benefits of animal ownership for seniors. Furthermore, these benefits have been understood and documented for decades.

Pets are known for relieving the stress, providing devotion, and alleviating boredom for seniors across the country. Loneliness is a contributor to the failing health of many seniors, and getting a pet is a great way to reduce that feeling and evoke the feeling of purpose.