Does owning a pet really get better with age? According to a survey conducted by the National Poll on Healthy Aging, 88% of seniors claim their pets help them to enjoy a better quality of life, and 79% of seniors believe their four-legged friends are largely responsible for reducing their daily stress levels. Seeing as over 40% of seniors suffer from feelings of loneliness, owning a pet can play a huge role in improving their overall well-being and ability to transition to a new life stage. Keep reading to find out our top 6 reasons why seniors should adopt a pet in their later years!
Pets provide seniors with a routine.
After retirement, it is even more important to prioritize a daily routine, because, without a sense of purpose, it is much easier to slip into a depressed mindset. Over 60% of seniors report that owning a pet helps them maintain a structured lifestyle, and over 70% claim that their pets are responsible for providing them with a sense of purpose.
Pets help seniors cope with pain.
Two in five seniors living alone report that their pets take their mind off of their pain. This could be the result of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, which is released even when pet owners look into their pet’s eyes for only five minutes’ worth of time. In addition, pets have been known to lower blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of heart disease, and decrease stress levels.
Pets give seniors an excuse to socialize.
Social isolation increases the risk of stroke by 32% and the risk of heart disease by 29%. Moreover, it can lead to depression and poor mental health. However, pets offer seniors an excuse to leave the house with plenty of conversation starters. Who doesn’t love to show off their fur baby?
Pets make sure seniors stay active.
In addition to helping seniors be social, pets encourage seniors to remain active. Doctors recommend that able-bodied seniors aged 65 and older get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. Since 64% of all pet owners report that feeding, playing, and walking their pet helps them stay more active, it goes without saying that seniors with pets often prioritize their physical fitness.
Pets keep seniors safe and secure.
Pets provide seniors living at home an extra barrier of security. Thieves are far less likely to rob homes where dogs live. Both cats and dogs help to alert seniors to strange noises around the house, especially seniors who struggle with hearing loss.
Pets give seniors the gift of companionship.
As stated above, one of the hardest parts about growing older is the feeling of loneliness. Pets encourage seniors to live in the present, and more often than not, become a very best friend.
If you or your loved one are considering adopting a pet, think about your new companion’s needs and personality, along with your own habits and lifestyle, before choosing a breed. If a pet is too expensive, physically demanding, or high maintenance, owning a pet may actually induce stress. It is also important to remember that some pets outlive their owners. For this reason, you should include pets in your estate planning and name a caretaker for your pet. In some cases, it is also a good idea to set up a pet trust to cover the animal’s care.
For more information on the benefits of pets for seniors, check out this article from U.S. News & World Report.