Some people have this misconception that senior citizens should no longer have pets. While there are some challenges to pet ownership for people of retirement age and beyond, the benefits far outweigh those challenges. The benefits are wide reaching and pet ownership among senior citizens should definitely be considered.
Dogs Keep senior citizens fit.
Dogs keep senior citizens moving and on the go. Without a pet around, many senior citizens will find their daily lives becoming largely sedentary. In fact, more than half of people over the age of 65 don’t meet the suggested guidelines for physical activity as laid out by the Center for Disease Control. AARP, referenced an article published in The Journal of Physical Activity and Health that asserts that those with dogs will exercise an hour more than those without dogs. That’s huge!
Studies indicate that seniors who own dogs have health advantages over others in the elderly community that don’t. It’s true. In particular, lower levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure are two biggies! Heart attacks which account for approximately two-thirds of Cardio Vascular Disease Deaths occur in people age 75 and older. Having lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol decreases the chances of ever having a heart event.
Dogs encourage people to connect. In fact, sometimes they force it. A cute dog is known to be a magnet for the average person. It’s hard to pass happy, furry little faces without a few words or a pat on the head. These connections encourage conversation and even may be catalyst for friendships. Even for the introverted senior in your life, there’s no stopping a dog that wants to greet the neighbors. These connections may very well be the only human interaction a senior may experience. Connections reduce loneliness! Loneliness and social isolation are very common among the elderly. Social isolation can causepremature death, increases the risk of dementia and more.
Many seniors become spend most, if not all, of their time at home. Alone. When retirement comes, people stop working. This means many days ahead without structure. This can also mean no reason to get up, get showered and get going each day. Structure is so important for senior citizens. According to Daily Caring, an award winning website, “Structure can reduce stress, increase feelings of security and improve sleep.” Dogs provide structure as well as an overall disciplined lifestyle. Dogs have to get and be walked or let out at a certain hour, they have specified meal times and often times of the day that they like to play.
Along with feelings of isolation, seniors can often feel misunderstood. Dogs can read and react to emotion. It’s been proven via studies with dogs and MRI scanners. Dogs MRI scans have shown that the brain of a dog responds to human voices and sounds just like their human counterparts. In fact, “Dogs are also the only nonhuman animals who scan the left side of a face — the process whereby people, too, “read” emotions.”
Dogs make life fun.
We all need to return to the playful state of our childhood, senior citizens included. Just like George Bernard Shaw once said “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” It’s fun to play a game of catch with a dog, go for walks, and just laugh at the funny little personalities of dogs on a daily basis.
In short, all pets provide benefits to senior citizens that directly or indirectly impact their mental and physical health. The evidence is overwhelming. Sadly, many elderly people are encouraged to give up their pets when things start to get difficult. It doesn’t have to be this way.
While we certainly can’t dispute the benefits of pet ownership to the elderly, we realize there are some challenges. It can become harder to care for a pet as people approach the sunset of their life, but with a little help it’s worth keeping a furry companion around. That’s where All Critters can come in. We provide steady and dependable daily services completely tailored to the needs and lifestyles of our senior citizens. Whether it’s a few times a week or 1-4 times a day, we proudly cater to and serve the senior and retirement community. We’re well known and recommended by several independent and assisted living facilities in Raleigh and Cary area.
Give us a call today. We’d love to help make pet ownership easier for you or for a senior family member.