4 Ways a Pet Can Benefit Your Senior Loved One
Aging-in-place and in-home care are just two ingredients for a senior’s healthy, independent life. But even with the most advanced technology and incredible nurses, there’s still something missing from many elderly individuals’ lives: companionship. Would you believe that the solution to this problem could be in an older dog down at your local shelter?
You’ve no doubt heard how beneficial a pet can be to any elderly person, but what exactly are those benefits, and is it the right choice to make in the long run? Here are 4 ways pets can be beneficial to senior citizens:
One of the arguments against an elderly individual adopting a pet involves how stressful it can be. After all, many pet owners remember how frustrating it was to initially house train a young, energetic puppy. Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to put that kind of pressure on a senior?
It turns out, however, that the opposite is true! Recent medical studies have proven the enormous anti-stress health benefits that being around a pet can provide elderly people. The act of petting a dog or cat, for example, has been shown to naturally lower blood pressure. Another study showed that the very presence of a pet can cause one’s heart rate to lower and steady immediately.
For seniors in particular, owning and interacting with a pet long-term can lower cholesterol, decrease depression, ease arthritis pain, and better protect against heart disease. Talk about man’s best friend!
Companionship & Protection
Leaving an elderly loved one to live alone is one of the hardest things many families have to do. Even with all of the helpful technology at our disposal these days, it’s not easy to drive away from the home of an aged loved one with peace of mind.
A pet may not be a conversational roommate, but they are incredible company!
One of the worst side-effects of a senior living alone is a sense of isolation and loneliness. That’s the great thing about pets: For the most part, their entire world revolves around you. They’ll go out of their way for your love and attention, playing with you and resting with you whenever the opportunities present themselves. They also have an uncanny sixth sense that allows them to detect when you’re feeling exceptionally down or sad, and will do their best to comfort you during those times.
Even with the enormous emotional benefits aside, having a dog of any breed can also provide significant security. Even with advanced home security systems being improved upon every day, nothing gives an intruder more pause than a dog’s bark. Dogs also can be trained to detect early signs of physical ailments – like fainting – and direct their owners to a chair or sofa.
Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against seniors who live alone. With age come deteriorating muscles and an overall sense of lethargy. This makes it difficult or discouraging for them to get out and exercise on their own.
If a senior has a dog to care for, however, a little bit of exercise daily is necessary. Dogs love walks and a majority of them are all too excited to share that passion with their owners.
The benefits of a leisurely stroll through the dog park for a senior cannot be overstated. Being out in natural sunlight provides essential vitamins as well as improves overall mood. By keeping their legs in motion of a daily basis, seniors are strengthening their muscles and significantly combating the possibility of heart attack and stroke.
New-Found Investment in Life
Growing older can be difficult. Isolation and loneliness can lead to crippling depression, making getting out of the house or even getting out of bed difficult.
By doing something as simple as adopting a pet, seniors are automatically given something more to think about and, more importantly, care for. Positive routines are some of the healthiest habits a senior can develop, and pets provide those opportunities in spades.
They need to be fed and watered. They need to be kept clean, maybe even taken to a groomer. Cats need to have their litter boxes changed, while dogs need to be let outside. More than any of that, of course, all pets also need attention. They need to know that they’re loved and cared for, just like any human being does.
Adopting a pet means so much more to a senior than just bringing a cuddly animal home with them. By taking something in that needs this much attention, seniors are making an active choice to not only continue living their lives but becoming invested in another. That’s a sort of bond that can keep anyone going for a long, long time.
Compassionate (Pet Friendly!) In-Home Care in Frederick & Montgomery Counties, MD
At Advanced Nursing and Home Support, our skilled team of quality caregivers provides pet-friendly in-home care for loved ones at all ages and stages. Whether your loved one just needs someone to check in every once in a while and get to and from appointments, or daily medication reminders and meal help, we’ve got a care companion that’s right for your family. Schedule your home care consultation today!