New studies are coming out that are showing how owning a pet can be beneficial to the elderly population. We already know that owning a pet is great for people from all walks of life, and pets are known to make you happy when you are sad. There are actually a lot of ways that owning a pet can benefit senior citizens, who are often the group of people who tend to get depressed because they are losing family and friends left and right due to illness or age. In terms of why owning a pet when you are a senior citizen is beneficial, you might not know about all of the positive aspects of pet ownership. Here are some of the benefits that pets can provide senior citizens that researchers have found through various studies recently.
Pets provide physical stimulation
One of the biggest benefits of a senior owning a pet is that a pet can provide physical stimulation. If a senior citizen owns a dog, then the senior will be walking the dog regularly and playing fetch. A cat also needs attention such as playing with strings, mice, and laser pointers, which also helps the senior engage in physical activity. There is also the fact that you have to get up to feed and water animals twice a day and go out and purchase the food or litter products, so it keeps a senior citizen active. If you are like me and own two cats, then you know they also keep you active because they are always getting onto something or in something, and that will definitely keep you running around the house as well.
Pets reduce depression
Pets are also known to reduce depression and loneliness, which is a common problem for senior citizens. Cats and dogs love attention and love to snuggle up while on the couch or chair, which is a great way for seniors to feel loved and wanted. Pets need attention just like senior citizens need attention, so it is basically a mutually beneficial situation. I know with my cats, I can barely sit down without them wanting to jump on me and sleep, and it is a great feeling of closeness. Dogs are known for sleeping at the end of the bed, so this can be very comforting for an older person, especially if they are living alone. The crazy things pets do also are a source of happiness, such as when you have cats chasing each other through the house, and you have dogs frolicking in the leaves during the fall. It is hard to really ever feel alone if you have an animal with you, and for a senior citizen, a very close bond can be formed with an animal.
Pets can lower heart rate and blood pressure
Senior citizens are prone to elevated heart and blood pressure, and it is no secret that having a pet can lower both the heart rate and blood pressure. Pets are very relaxing in nature, which is why heart rate and blood pressure are known to drop when being around them. I often equate to holding my cat to holding a baby, it really just puts your whole body into a relaxing and calm state. Cuddling with an animal can help reduce tension and calm nerves, and it is similar to doing meditation or other calming techniques. The mortality rate is known to drop when a senior owns a pet, which is probably due to the lowering of the heart rate a blood pressure.
Pets can challenge seniors mentally
There are so many different animals out there, even thousands of breeds of cats and dogs. One good thing about owning a pet is that you really need to research what type of pet you have, and figure out the best ways to take care of that pet. Having a pet allows a senior to begin reading and finding out information about that specific animal, such as how many baths are needed, and what the best type of food is to promote a healthy lifestyle. If a senior has limited experience with a pet, then reading and learning about the animal as a whole is a good way to help stimulate the brain. Maybe having a pet might get the senior interested in learning about other animals, and this can help maintain cognitive function. There is no doubt about it, pets are a great way to enhance the life of a senior citizen, and can help seniors enjoy life to the fullest.