The Hidden Benefits of Pets in Old Age
Pets are becoming a popular choice for older people. Whether it’s a dog, cat, or even a rabbit, a pet can provide social and emotional stimulation. This can help to boost a person’s mood and overall mental health, which is of course very important. So what are the benefits of having a pet when you’re a bit older? And how does it help?
The effect of pets on health has been an interesting talking point for quite some time. One institute in Australia carried out a 3-year study with over 5000 participants. They found that those participants that had pets had lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. This is a great benefit to those in old age who are more susceptible to these kinds of health issues.
Another study in the US entailed pets being introduced to nursing homes. The results showed that the residents who were more exposed to the pets and interacted with them more regularly tended to smile more, and actually became more alert and aware than those who had little contact with the pets. They also found that residents who had previously been aggressive instead became more tolerant and patient when in the presence of animals.
Pets Alleviate Loneliness
Two common problems with many elderly people are isolation and depression, which can both be caused by loneliness. Particularly with those who have families further away and have lost their partner, a pet can provide a healthy and sustainable source of friendship and even love.
Pets (particularly dogs) can also help to boost your mood. As mentioned above, it’s not unusual for elderly people to experience depression or even anxiety. Dogs boost the levels of serotonin (a happy hormone) in our bodies and can help brighten up your day. Even more remarkably, dogs can sense when a human is feeling sad or anxious. Their instincts lead them to comfort you – which is ideal for an elderly person!
You’re More Likely to Take Care of Yourself
Having a pet means that you are responsible for something, and you’re therefore more likely to take good care of it. There might be days usually where you don’t want to get out of bed but having a pet forces you to get up and go, which is good!
Pets unintentionally make you establish a daily routine. Pets often need feeding, exercising, playing with, or perhaps grooming. This can help you to establish a daily schedule and will keep you active and stimulated throughout the day.
Additionally, having to exercise your pet also means you have to exercise yourself. This is a great benefit for those in old age as it gets them outside and keeping active. It also gives them a chance to socialise and get a breath of fresh air!
Pets are wonderful friends to have, and they really do give you a new lease of life! Whether you’re wanting to hear the rattle of a hamster ball rolling around your living room, or you fancy adopting a rescued Great Dane, then it may have some real health benefits for you. We’ve found a helpful quiz from the PDSA that will ask what you’re looking for in a pet so you can make an informed decision. We hope you find the perfect furry companion for you!