Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors
Learn about the ways that owning a pet can benefit your senior loved one
Many people enjoy the experience of owning a pet, including seniors. Spending each and every day with their own companion gives pet owners something to look forward to and provides a little more meaning in their lives.
But did you know that owning a pet can also provide a number of benefits for older adults?
For seniors, owning a furry companion means more than something to love and play with every day. It also means having a regular care routine, having an opportunity to get some physical activity into their day and having a shared interest with other members in their community.
According to recent research by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pets are good for older adults — not just because they make them smile, but because they improve their moods.
Many elderly adults tend to worry about what tomorrow will bring. However, taking care of a pet and spending time with their furry companion gives them something positive to focus on. More importantly, it gives them something in the present to hold their attention. Seniors can worry less about the future when they're preoccupied with taking their dog out for a walk or relaxing on the couch with their favorite feline.
Pets also help to create a sense of well-being among elderly individuals who may be facing health issues or living alone. A study published in 2014 showed that elderly pet owners had significantly lower levels of depression than non-pet owners.
Feeling isolated is a common problem among seniors who are aging in place. Older adults who have trouble moving around or remembering certain days and events may miss out on opportunities to socialize with friends and family. This can lead seniors to spend most of the day at home by themselves, which can make them feel lonely and negatively impact their overall well-being.
However, pets offer companionship to seniors as they go through daily life routines. These animals keep seniors company as they get ready for work, cook dinner, clean up after meals, take a bath or do whatever else they need to do during the day. By keeping them busy, these pets contribute to seniors' feelings of happiness and decrease their loneliness levels.
The AVMA says that pets have long been known as a source of comfort and companionship for many seniors. In fact, the researchers behind this study say that there is evidence suggesting that pets actually decrease loneliness among elderly men and women. This could be why so many seniors keep pets at home. Pets give them someone to spend time with every day, making them happy and helping them avoid feelings of isolation.
Even if your loved one can't always come to social gatherings, you know they'll always have a faithful companion keeping them company at home.
Developing an Everyday Care Routine
Seniors, especially those with age-related cognitive issues, can tend to forget things. Creating and sticking to a routine can help your loved one remember certain tasks and make it easier to take care of themselves, Owning a pet also means creating a routine to properly care for them.
While it's important for older adults to have a routine to follow each day, it's even more crucial for them to establish a routine with their pets. When your loved one establishes a regular routine for both themselves and their pet, it will ensure that both of them stay healthy and well-rested throughout the week without any confusion or stress.
Getting up at roughly the same time every morning and feeding their cat or dog breakfast and water will teach them exactly where they should lay their heads at night. Having established a set schedule will help your loved one commit their routine to memory and make it easier to incorporate into their everyday routine.
Increased Physical Activity
In addition to providing companionship, owning a pet also offers older adults a chance to engage in some form of physical activity. If your loved one struggles to stay active, owning a pet can help them incorporate some physical activity into each and every day.
For example, owning a dog means spending time with it outside. If your loved one has a large enough backyard, they can play fetch. Or your loved one can take their dog out for a walk every day. Some cats may also enjoy going out for a walk, or your loved one can help their cat and themselves stay active by having their feline companion chase around a feather teaser toy. These activities provide a great way to burn calories while engaging in exercise.
A Way to Make New Friends
Chances are many members of your loved one's local community also own pets. Owning a pet is a great way to bring people together and help your loved one make new friends. For example, if your loved one owns a dog who needs to be walked every day, they can spend some time at a local dog park and interact with fellow dog owners. Or they can stop at a nearby pet supply store and ask other cat owners which treats are the best.
Your loved one can branch out from their local community, as well. There are many online forums and communities for pet owners. When your loved one joins one of these communities, they can discuss their companion with others, get recommendations about pet supplies and find a shared interest with other pet owners around the world.
How Visiting Angels Helps Elderly Pet Owners
At Visiting Angels of Wilkes-Barre, we understand that providing quality senior care means focusing on all aspects of the care recipient's needs. Not only will we take care of your loved one's physical needs, but their emotional and social needs, as well.
If your loved one has trouble taking care of everyday tasks, our caregivers can help out with light housekeeping, preparing meals and doing laundry. That way, your loved one can focus on feeding their pet, taking their dog out for a walk or playing with their cat. Meanwhile, they'll get the help and support they need from a dedicated caregiver.
Our caregivers can also accompany your loved one when they take their dog out for a walk, go shopping for pet supplies or spend a day at the local dog park. Not only will our caregivers provide companionship and engaging conversation, but we can also make sure your loved one and their favorite companion stay safe.
In addition, our Social Care program can help your loved one engage with other pet owners by helping them learn how to use technology. For example, we can help your loved one set up a Facebook account and join groups for pet owners. Or we can help them learn how to use a search engine to find recommendations for pet food, toys, and more.
At Visiting Angels, we understand owning a pet is a positive and enriching experience for elderly adults and we can tailor our senior care services so your loved one can focus on spending their golden years with their furry companion while giving you peace of mind.
Call us today to schedule a free in-home consultation!