Seniors may benefit from owning a pet

By: Bel Marra Health | General Health | Thursday, July 09, 2015 - 04:34 AM

seniors owning a pet for better healthAs you get older the likelihood of being alone increases. Whether you are widowed, divorced or never married, aging alone can really take its toll. Combine loneliness with chronic illness and you have a recipe for poor health.

One solution that has shown to offer a great benefit to seniors is to own a pet. Previous reviews of research on seniors and pet ownership showed a great improvement in their emotional support and physical activity – two things seniors require as they age.

So if improving health for seniors is as easy as owning a pet, why aren’t more seniors doing so? Well, unfortunately seniors face many challenges when it comes to pet ownership.

Seniors face hurdles for pet ownership

Seniors face hurdles for pet ownershipMany factors come into play when it comes to seniors owning a pet. Pets, like humans, require a lot of responsibility and funds. Seniors on pensions might not have the money to even purchase the pet, let alone afford food, toys and annual checkups. Likewise, pets can be quite needy and seniors may simply not have the energy to care for these animals.

Authors of the research paper published in Activities, Adaptation and Aging tried to make viable solutions to increase pet ownership among seniors. They recognize that seniors can benefit from having a pet and so they outlined ways to improve the likelihood of owning one for seniors.

The authors also feel that seniors require confidence prior to choosing a pet. Learning more about the animal and how to care for it can boost awareness and help in the decision-making process. When it comes to selecting a pet there are many options from dogs, cats, fish to birds. That said, some people might have an eye on a pet that could be too demanding, and they give up on pet ownership completely.

The study authors suggested that if shelters work with seniors, the workers could help them pick the right pet for their needs and abilities.

6 Health benefits of owning a pet

health benefits of owning a petWith that in mind, seniors should greatly consider the companionship of a pet. These friends offer health benefits including:

  • Pets can help lower blood pressure – A Japanese study found people who watched animals saw a drop in their blood pressure
  • Pets ease the loneliness that can lead to depression
  • Create a feeling of security
  • Caring for a pet promotes better care for yourself
  • They protect your heart – A New York-based study revealed discharged heart-disease patients had better success if they owned a pet
  • They improve social skills – 95 percent of pet owners talk to their pet.

These are just some of the benefits a pet can have in your life. And just think, if more seniors adopted pets, the shelters would be able to find more homes for these animals.

So if you’re a senior looking for a companion, do some research, visit some shelters and consider the options. Your health, and new friend, will thank you!

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