It has been a long day at work, you’re feeling exhausted, and you’re in need of a pick-me-up. You open the door, and you’re greeted with a happy, tail wagging adorable furry friend that is full of excitement at your presence alone! The unconditional love that we feel for our furry friends can be very beneficial to our emotional well-being. The advantages of having a pet can be even more significant when providing animals to seniors in assisted living. Here are a few benefits to consider when bringing a furry companion into the life of your loved one:
Improves Emotional Well-Being
Loneliness and depression are two of the highest risks associated with aging. Older adults usually deal with a higher amount of loss and seniors who have lost mobility, vision, hearing, or even loved ones can fall into loneliness and depression. Owning a pet can help promote healthy emotions through constant love and attention. Not only do animals for seniors benefit emotional health, but they can also improve physical fitness.
Increased Physical Health
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can lower stress, improve fitness, and your overall health by:
- Decreasing cholesterol
- Decreasing triglyceride levels (or fat in the blood)
- Decreasing blood pressure levels
- Increasing exercise
- Increasing outdoor activity
These factors are all essential to the health of seniors. With increased opportunities to exercise and be active, seniors in assisted living communities have a reason to go outside and get some fresh air. Allowing your loved one to be active in their community can also help them find social engagement with neighbors and their new companion.
Increased Social Engagement
Animals for seniors provide their older owners with additional social opportunities. When at a social event, it may be hard to start a conversation with others. However, most pet owners love talking about their fur babies! This topic can be a great ice breaker for sparking conversation.
Taking pets out to run errands, the park, or on a walk around the block can also increase a senior’s social engagement. Individuals who enjoy animals, which is a large percentage of the population, will seek to interact with the animal. Another social opportunity will arise when interacting with other pet owners, such as at a dog park. Seniors with pets can inspire social interactions that may not have transpired without caring for an animal.
Sense of Purpose
Older adults can sometimes feel as though they are no longer useful or needed. One of the benefits a senior animal companion can provide is the opportunity to feel a sense of purpose. When someone has the responsibility of providing and caring for another living creature it makes them feel needed. A pet that needs to be cleaned, fed, and exercised can restore a lost feeling of worth. If an older loved one is incapable of caring for a pet entirely, consider seeking out animal therapy opportunities.
At some of our Oaks Senior Living communities, our Therapy Dogs benefit our resident’s mental and physical health. We also offer Pet Therapy as a healing activity for seniors. If an older loved one is not capable of caring for an animal, it should not stop them from being loved by one!For more information on how to better an older loved one’s quality of life, subscribe to our blog.