Research reveals that elderly adults can benefit physically as well as mentally from having a pet, specifically a dog or cat. With age comes a lot of stress, health issues and loneliness. A dog or cat can provide aging adults with a constant companion, a focus for their attention, and incentive to be more active. Family caregivers that may be hesitating on whether their elderly loved one should get a dog or cat should learn more about the benefits that adoption brings.
Why Should Seniors Adopt a Pet?
Even with friends, family caregivers and elderly care providers, many aging adults are isolated and lonely. Usually this is due to health issues that prevent them from being as active or social as they once were. Illnesses, injuries, chronic conditions and just the wear and tear of old age can really affect how well aging adults can get around. Many rely on family caregivers and elderly care providers to assist with basic things around the house like laundry, cleaning, cooking, finances, and yard care. This can leave aging adults feeling useless, sad, frustrated and helpless.
By adopting a dog or cat, the aging adult can focus their attention on a pet that depends on them for all their needs. Many elderly adults report finding a new sense of purpose when they adopt a dog or cat, and they love the affection and interaction that their pet brings to their lives. Even if seniors still need help from family caregivers or elderly care providers with pet care, the benefits of having a dog or cat are clear.
Benefits of Pet Adoption for Seniors
Older cats and dogs make ideal pets for aging adults. This is because they are not as energetic as kittens or puppies and are more content to cuddle and interact. Senior animals also have clearly defined personalities and their temperament is already set. This makes it easy to match the animal with the person’s needs. Family caregivers and aging adults should seriously consider adopting from an animal shelter as there are millions of older dogs and cats awaiting homes there.
Physical benefits of having a dog or cat include reduced stress, lower blood pressure and a lower risk for depression. Studies show that petting and cuddling a dog or cat stimulates the brain to release hormones that flood the body with good feelings and lower stress levels. Taking care of a dog or cat also means regular feeding, cleaning or bathing, and active play. Seniors are encouraged to get up and stay active longer with a dog or cat.
When it comes to mental health, aging adults benefit from higher self-esteem, fewer episodes of loneliness and more laughter and entertainment in their daily lives. Even elderly adults who are restricted to a wheelchair or even bedridden can benefit from the right dog or cat. Family caregivers should seriously consider helping their aging loved one adopt a dog or cat so they can reap all the benefits of pet ownership. This leads to happier and healthier seniors.