As we age, the advantages of pet ownership can’t be understated. A furry friend can be a source of companionship and happiness that brings life into the home while reminding us to cherish the simple things. Knowing there’s a source of unconditional love waiting at home is enough to get many people through the day.
But pets offer more than just companionship. There are many health benefits associated with pet ownership, and for senior’s living at home, they’re the perfect match for aging in place. At Friendship at Home, we know how meaningful life with your pets can be – they feel like part of the family – and we want to ensure you can enjoy their presence for years to come.
So here is a quick list of the positive health benefits pet owning seniors can enjoy:
Reduced Stress and Depression
Studies show that pet ownership can significantly reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in people of all ages. In fact, some studies suggest therapy dogs can be just as effective as antidepressants and antianxiety medications prescribed by doctors. With excessive stress causing headaches, insomnia, and long-term bodily harm, owning a pet can decrease stress and prevent its adverse side effects
Increased Physical Activity
Owning a pet encourages seniors to spend time outside doing low-impact physical activity. Whether throwing a Frisbee, taking a scenic walk through the park, or playing tug of war on the couch, owning a pet increases the chances of enjoying the outdoors and exercising. One study found that dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get the recommended amount of daily exercise than their non-pet-owning counterparts. With benefits of exercise including increased energy, longevity and reduced likelihood of developing dementia, the physical benefits of owning a pet are perfect for seniors living at home.
Humans are inherently social beings, and maintaining a sense of connectedness to others is an important part of healthy living. Just as pet ownership improves the chances of engaging in physical activities, it increases the likelihood of engaging in social activities as well. Research suggests regular socialization reduces the likelihood of developing clinical depression and most forms of cognitive decline like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Whether going to a dog park, talking with neighbors while walking your dog or bonding with grandchildren over a furry friend, pet ownership provides opportunities to increase social interactions and build a sense of safety, security, and belonging.