There are many benefits of pet ownership at any age. But, for older adults, these benefits can be even more life changing. Many older people find that a pet improves their quality of life tremendously. Here’s a look at just some of the benefits of pet ownership for older adults.
Pets Can Reduce Loneliness
Loneliness is very common in older people. Many people look forward to retirement, only to find that they miss the hustle and bustle of a busy working life, the routine of work, and the social connections that they formed. This can be made worse if friends are still working or following the loss of a partner or close friend.
While a pet isn’t the same as a partner, it can offer companionship and give older people someone to talk to, confide in, and even live for.
A Pet Can be a Lifelong Companion
For an older adult, a pet such as a dog can become a lifelong companion, easing the stress of big life events such as retirement, moving house, or the loss of friends and family. The good news is, there are some pet friendly senior living communities, so pets really can be with an older person through the changes that they face, easing the transition to a new home and making finding new friendships easier.
Animals Give People Something to Love
Love and affection are incredibly important. The loss of friends and family, which is unfortunately common in later life, can leave people with a lot of love to give, and a need to feel some in return. Pets, and especially animals like dogs and cats, can give older people someone to love, and someone to love them in return.
Pets Make People Feel Needed
When we have a pet at home, whatever kind it is, there’s something that needs us. We have to feed them, groom them, and give them our attention. This can give older people a sense that they are still important and add an all-important routine to their lives.
Animals Reduce Blood Pressure
Stroking a pet has been shown to reduce blood pressure, slow the heart rate and calm the mind. Even visiting a pet for a few hours a week can be a great tool, and having an animal at home can significantly reduce the risks of high blood pressure.
Pets Provide Opportunities to Exercise
A dog can be an excellent pet for older people because it will need daily (or more frequent) walks. Even short walks can help to reduce blood pressure, boost circulation, ease joint stiffness, improve appetite and quality of sleep, and reduce the risks of a range of health conditions.
Animal Friends Can Lead to Human Friends
While animals are great friends in their own right, they can also give older people a great chance to make new human friends as they meet other pet owners at the vets, the pet shop, or on their daily dog walks. These social connections, even if it’s just a quick hello, can be a big mental health and mood boost.
A pet can benefit an older person’s physical and mental health and quality of life. But perhaps the biggest benefit to most older people is the sense of purpose and responsibility that a pet gives them. This can prevent feelings of uselessness and loss and help them to feel valued, loved, and needed as they age.