Filling your days with purpose and joy is what retirement is all about. For those still searching for ways to enhance their quality of life, pet ownership could be the perfect option. The benefits of pets for seniors are not only abundant; they’re truly impactful. From physical fitness to mental health to social companionship, the health benefits of pets for seniors are clear. If you’ve been wondering if having a pet is right for you, here are just some of the incredible ways a furry friend can make your retirement even sweeter.
Physical Fitness Benefits
Having a pet gives people an outlet for physical activity that is actually enjoyable. Dog owners in particular know that owning a dog has a number of physical health benefits.
1) Dog walking is directly associated with lower body mass index and fewer doctor visits.
2) Pet care enforces a daily routine. Walking your dog around the same time every day gives pet owners the opportunity for frequent, consistent exercise.
3) Having a pet improves cardiovascular health. Compared with non-pet-owning seniors, those with pets have overall lower systemic blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a reduced risk of heart attacks.
But dog owners aren’t the only ones who benefit from improved physical health. Having a cat also provides opportunities for physical activity, though admittedly less than having a dog. Getting up and playing with your cat for 20 minutes a day is a wonderful alternative for seniors with mobility challenges who may not be able to keep up with the physical needs of a dog. Dog or cat, owning a pet has remarkable health benefits for seniors beyond physical fitness.
Mental and Emotional Benefits
Having a pet has a number of profound cognitive benefits. The unconditional love a pet offers can do wonders for mental and emotional health. In fact, the health benefits of pets for seniors are why there are more and more pet-friendly senior living communities.
4) Companionship is essential for longevity. Seniors who have pets report significantly fewer feelings of isolation and depression.
5) Even the act of petting a dog or cat can make you happier. Those with pets are proven to have less anxiety and depression.
6) A psychiatric assistance dog (PAD), or therapy dog, can positively impact mental health disorders and interrupt undesirable behavior in pet owners.
7) The presence of pets in the home can reduce the effects of dementia, though few long-term studies have been done proving that pet ownership reduces cases of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Social Wellness Benefits
Being a pet owner is one of the most effective ways to promote social wellness. For seniors who have difficult building relationships with others, the bond formed with pets can be a highly rewarding experience. And for outgoing extraverts, owning a pet can continue to add to a lively social life.
8) Owning a pet gives you lots of opportunities to meet and socialize with other pet owners — it’s the perfect ice breaker for those who are uncomfortable striking up a conversation with someone new.
9) Having a pet is a source of unconditional love — and who can’t use more of that?
People love their pets. The joy they create brings pet owners happier, longer lives through the increased physical, mental, emotional and social benefits they have each day compared to non-pet owners. Here at The Buckingham, Houston’s premier pet-friendly senior living community, we believe that in addition to promoting every dimension of wellness, pets provide older adults with a sense of purpose and compassion in any level of our continuum of care. Although owning a pet may be best suited for those in independent living due to the care and maintenance that goes hand in hand with pet ownership, health benefits of pets for seniors can be enjoyed by everyone.