Did you know that nearly 20% of the Canadian population is over the age of 65? Thanks to Canada’s excellent health care our seniors are living longer healthier lives. As such, it is up to us younger lot to make sure that our loved ones live out their golden years in happiness and peace.
How do we ensure that? Well, one way, as scientific research studies suggest, is for seniors to interact and bond with pets. The benefits of pets for seniors are plenty. Along with helping to improve mobility, lower stress, and improve heart health, pets can also keep your loved ones happy and entertained.
Benefits Of Pets For Seniors
There are several health benefits that seniors can enjoy by owning a pet. Studies show that pets help decrease blood pressure, increase fitness (thus lowering cholesterol), regulate triglyceride levels, and decrease feelings of loneliness and depression.
However, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits pets can provide.
In this article, we will explore some of the most common and important benefits of pet ownership for seniors.
We will also help you figure out what pet would be best suited for your loved one based on several important factors. So, let’s get to it!
The Physical Benefits Of Owning Pets
The most important physical benefit of owning a pet is that they help improve cardiovascular health. Frequently interacting with your pet is proven to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels that in turn help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The second major physical benefit is that it helps keep seniors active. Improving activity and mobility by walking, grooming, or playing with pets can give seniors much-needed exercise; which on its own has infinite benefits.
Owning a pet can also greatly help in promoting healthy behaviour. It is a well-documented fact that pet owners tend to take much better care of themselves as compared to non-pet owners. Looking after a pet helps develop a routine that keeps one active.
By caring for your pet you tend to care for yourself as well. After all, you need to be in good health and physical shape to meet your pet’s needs just as much as you need to meet your own!
Associated Health Benefits
According to a journal published by the American Heart Association, seniors who own pets (especially dogs) are at a much-reduced risk of contracting cardiovascular disease.
Owning a dog automatically forces one to be more active. This helps improve fitness which in turn is beneficial when it comes to regulating blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Owning a pet can also help boost immunity and even improve life span.
Plenty of research studies have also proven that having pets can also be hugely beneficial for seniors when it comes to mental health.
Having a beloved animal companion can have a positive impact on their mood and can also lessen the impact of dementia and depression.
Animal interaction is an amazing way to ensure that your loved one gets the opportunity to interact with not just their pets but with neighbours and friends.
Taking their dog out for a walk every morning is not just good for their health, but also allows them to see, meet, and socialize with people they know while enjoying some time outdoors.
However, it is highly recommended that if a senior does go out for walks on their own, even if they are around the vicinity of their homes and with their pets, they should always leave the home wearing an Intouch On-the-MOVE device.
This device is a personal alert button that works wherever there is cell service, which is just about anywhere in Canada. With this device, you and your loved one can have the security and peace of mind to go and do as they please.
Having a companion animal can have many positive emotional benefits. For one, it can decrease loneliness, especially if your loved ones live on their own. Pets provide companionship and are a source of affection and interaction.
Having animal companions have also proven to increase serotonin levels in the body which helps relieve stress and lower anxiety.
They can also help seniors with their self-esteem and give them a sense of purpose, as they know they are needed and have responsibilities.
Pets are also great when it comes to improving a person’s mood. Having them around makes one happy. Their unconditional love is just simply irresistible and gives seniors a reason to wake and be active every morning.
Choosing The Right Pet For Your Loved One
Getting a pet and ensuring that it is cared for is easier said than done. Many things have to be taken into consideration.
For example, you need to take into account your loved one’s physical condition. If they have trouble walking or are unable to provide constant attention to a pet, getting them a dog might not be such a great idea.
The other thing that one needs to consider is the financial implications of owning a pet. Can your loved one afford the pet’s care if they are living on a fixed income?
Animal care isn’t cheap. Trips to the vet, food, and other pet accessories can cost a lot of money. Always ensure that your loved one can afford the costs of owning a pet before committing.
If your loved one hasn’t owned a pet before you need to be even more careful when selecting the right pet for them. As such, we have compiled a list of some of the most low-maintenance pets for seniors.
- Cats - Our feline friends are amongst the best pets to own as they are very low maintenance requiring only food, water, love, and a litter box to be happy.
- Rabbits - These cute cuddly animals are often used in animal-assisted therapy and are simply perfect if all your loved one wants is an animal they can cuddle and love.
- Fish - There is nothing more relaxing or meditating than watching fish go about their business. Having an aquarium does require some maintenance but nothing drastic.
- Birds - Low-maintenance pets that are affordable and perfect for new pet owners.