Scientists studying the relationship between human beings and pets have found that pets do more than make us happier — they also make us healthier. And, several recent studies have shown that owning and handling a pet is especially helpful to seniors.
Seniors who care for pets live longer, healthier, and more enjoyable lives than their non-pet owning peers. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that independently-living seniors with pets have better physical health and mental well-being than those without pets. They’re more active, cope more effectively with stress, and enjoy better health.
Some specialists in senior care are taking heed of the findings. Organizations like Pets on Wheels and Therapy Dogs International bring animals for visits with seniors. One innovative independent living residence called Eden Alternative is filled with over 100 birds, dogs and cats. They even have an outside environment with rabbits and chickens. According to HealthyPet.com, Eden says the animals have an extremely positive impact — residents love them.
So, why do pets provide health benefits?
Pets make you more active and social. Pets need feeding, grooming, walking, and affection. Even if it’s just getting up to let a dog out a few times a day, or brushing a cat, activity benefits the cardiovascular system and helps keep joints limber and flexible. And, taking a dog out encourages interaction with others, which fights a sense of social isolation.
Pets lower your blood pressure. Studies have shown that when people pet animals, their blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature decrease. It’s relaxing.
Pets are an excellent source of companionship. They can act as a support system for older people who don’t have any family or close friends nearby. Plus, the love they offer is totally unconditional!
For more details on the benefits of pet ownership, take a look at HealthyPet.com. They also offer links to resources on how to find a pet.