As we get older, our children grow up and begin families of their own. Then the grandchildren grow up and suddenly, visiting the grandparents isn’t as regular as it used to be. Day-to-day life and responsibilities conspire to keep the younger generations from giving the elderly their time and attention. When this time comes, it’s important to make sure that elderly family members have an emotional connection, a source of affection and unconditional love. While a pet can’t take the place of a caring family, there are several amazing ways that pets benefit the lives of elderly humans.
Companionship and Stress Relief
Anyone who has ever lived with a dog or cat knows that even when your pet is sleeping while you go about your day, you are always aware that you have company if you want it. Rumbling purrs, kneading paws, belly rubs and a shadow as you move about your home let you know that you are loved. Elderly folks benefit greatly from having pets for companions. Pets may not be able to talk, but they communicate their love constantly, and having one around is a wonderful way to keep an elderly person from succumbing to loneliness, depression and the feeling of isolation that often sets in as they face physical challenges, health concerns and a lack of time spent with family and friends.
Cortisol and serotonin are chemicals in the body that work opposite each other. Cortisol is a stress hormone, while serotonin is known as the happy hormone. Pets are wonderful for helping lower cortisol and offering the comfort and stress relief that introduces higher levels of serotonin.
There are two things that can almost always bring a smile to any face: Children and animals. As my elderly grandmother’s health and mind deteriorated in the years prior to her death, a child or an animal could still make her smile. This fact is not lost upon senior centers that use therapy animals to bring joy to their patients.
According to The Delta Society – a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting therapy through pet ownership and interaction – the health benefits pets have on seniors are undeniable. The Delta Society website cites studies asserting that seniors with pets have fewer doctor visits and have lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Those of us who’ve had the privilege of being pet owners know firsthand that a pet offers unconditional love and companionship. My own pets seem to know when I need some furry affection, and their presence is calming.
People who love pets can’t imagine having to live without the comfort of a furry back to stroke or a purring foot warmer. However, as responsible pet owners age they may have to face the fact that they can no longer live alone and must move to a nursing home. Because there are so many people with different ailments and afflictions in a nursing home, more than likely the person won’t be able to take their beloved pets. New residents in a nursing home may experience depression due to the changes in their life and the loss of their pets.
Just imagine raising a puppy and providing it with wonderful care, attention and all the best in natural pet food like CANIDAE for years and then finding out that you are unable to care for him anymore. You are going to be moving to an assisted living facility and have to give up your precious pet to another family. It’s heartbreaking.
We all know that pets benefit from being adopted and becoming part of a loving home. We also know that when children are exposed to pets they tend to be more responsible and caring, but when it comes to the elderly the benefits of having a pet are much more than those for younger folks. In comparison with other seniors without pets, elderly pet owners show these results:
• Overall lower blood pressure and pulse rate. Animals have a calming effect as well as causing the senior to walk and move more to improve circulation and health.
• Improved mood and less depression. Pets generate good feelings and lift the mood.
• More social interaction. By making visits to the park to walk a dog or taking a cat to the vet, the elderly are exposed to other people more often.
• More physical activity. Walking dogs and playing with pets are good ways for the elderly to get more exercise, which is beneficial for their overall health.
• Unconditional love and affection. These are things that many elderly people are missing in their lives, since younger family members are often busy with their own lives and don’t have time to visit and spend time with seniors.
• Less loneliness. Again, pets take the place of people in the life of the elderly and many of them spend a great deal of time interacting and talking to their pets.
Besides these benefits it has been shown that seniors who have pets tend to take better care of themselves and show improved health after obtaining a pet. The elderly are exceedingly responsible pet owners too. Interestingly, it has been found that when an elderly family member has a pet, more relatives with young children will visit them because the pet provides a distraction for the children while the adults visit. This provides not only more attention for the pet, and interaction with adults for the senior, but also a chance for the senior to interact with the youngsters using the pet as a common ground of interest.
Young dogs and cats that are energetic and need to run and play more are not the best choice for an elderly person. Instead, a mature pet that has been well trained will make a more suitable companion. These are animals that will soak up all the attention that the elderly person will give them, they will nap often and just be a constant presence.
When it comes to the benefits of pets for the elderly, there are many suitable pets. Every sort of animal, from cats and dogs to fish, can provide the companionship and entertainment that improves the quality of life for the elderly. Many physicians and therapists recommend that their elderly patients obtain a pet for companionship, for exercise, and for therapy.
Just as companionship, understanding and devotion are beneficial to teenagers, the same is true for the elderly. The simple act of having a cat to cuddle on their lap, or a dog to curl up at their feet can make a world of difference in the life of an elderly person.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.