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.
When you think of physical exercise with a pet, you may picture walking, running and playing outside. For many elderly people this is not possible, but simply petting and brushing a pet helps with arthritis and muscle tone in the arms and hands. If the elderly person is mobile, walks and playing are a great way for them to stay active and get some fresh air and exercise while enjoying the company of their furry companions.
Education and Cognizance
As a person ages, it’s common for memory loss, lack of attention span and even dementia to set in. Animals have a way of helping elderly people stay focused. Pets help senior citizens keep their minds working by giving them the responsibility of grooming, physical and mental stimulation, and choosing wholesome pet food, such as CANIDAE. Learning about the specific breed of pet they have, talking to other people about their pet and spending time with their pet will help the elderly not only learn, which helps the mind, but also retain their cognizance. Folks who have a set routine for tasks relating to their pet tend to maintain those habits long after forgetting where they stuck their car keys or what they went to the store for.
People keep pets around for many reasons. Some of us just love animals, while others are taking advantage of the health and emotional benefits. Sadly, many elderly folks have never known the love of a dog or cat, because they come from a time when animals were regarded as frivolous unless they had a specific job such as guarding the house or killing barn mice. When these people meet new cats and dogs, the initial response is often not very enthusiastic, but after a few moments of petting, playing and interacting with the pets, many of them eagerly admit that they can feel the love and affection, the happiness and the benefit of having pets whose only job is to love their humans.
If there is an elderly person in your life, make sure they have a pet to keep them company and help them maintain their warm heart and sharp mind, especially if you don’t have the time to visit every day.
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell