Pets can be sources of joy for owners of all ages, but this is especially true for older adults. For seniors who are aging in place, the benefits of adopting a pet extend far beyond simply saving lives. In fact, research has shown that older adult pet owners are happier, healthier, and have an overall positive outlook on life. Let’s talk about 7 ways adopting a pet could help you.
1. Pets offer companionship.
Pets can provide companionship to counter feelings of isolation. Did you know that nearly one-fourth of adults over the age of 65 are considered to be socially isolated? And, evidence suggests that this isolation and subsequent feelings of loneliness are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia, heart disease, and other life-threatening conditions. Pets can offer emotional support and often become part of the family. Think about it: you’re never alone when your best friend lives with you.
2. A pet can help keep you social.
Sure, “man’s best friend” can be your buddy. But, adopting a pet can also keep you social with humans too! How? Take them for a walk in the park and meet some new people. Go to obedience class. Visit a dog park. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
3. A pet can help you exercise.
The U.S. Department of Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that older adults have at least 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate exercise per week. This can be easily achieved when you’re walking a dog or playing with your pet in the yard!
4. Specially trained service pets can assist with disabilities.
For seniors with disabilities, a service animal might be perfect. Service animals are specially trained to support those with disabilities, illnesses, and certain conditions. They can do everything from opening doors to helping their owner dress!
5. A pet can add purpose to life.
For some, owning a pet can add meaning to life. Feeling needed is something all people crave. According to the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, 73% of pet owners between the ages of 50 and 80 say that their animal provides a sense of purpose. They also say their pet makes them feel loved.
6. A pet can provide security.
We’re all familiar with movies and shows that feature dogs as the hero. How many times did Lassie save her owner Timmy from mortal danger? While fiction has the tendency to exaggerate, it may not be stretching credibility in the case of dogs! A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than that of human’s, meaning they can smell intruders long before they invade your property.
7. A pet can help older adults develop a routine.
While some people are set in their ways, others might flounder post-retirement. Sometimes, it can even feel like you’re drowning in an ocean of free time! Fortunately, there’s an easy solution—a pet! Caring for a pet can give your life much-needed structure and routine. What better way to fill up your free time than by spending it with an animal that loves you?
Are you a senior looking to adopt a pet?
If you’re thinking about adopting, then check out these resources for more info and help:
Need more help with aging in place?
What is aging in place? Find out here! Then, check out our CAPS directory and browse our senior living articles.