Elderly and Pets: The many advantages of pet-ownership in later life
We’ve all heard at one point or another that animals are great for the elderly and pets alike. But exactly how do our four-legged friends influence our lives and why are they so often recommended? Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of pet-ownership:
1. Pets can decrease blood pressure!
Let’s start on the medical side of things. Numerous studies have shown a link between pet ownership and lower blood pressure. As you may know, regular is an effective way to reduce blood pressure so you might think that explains the link – a daily dog walk is a great way to get moving and often forms the basis of a healthy daily routine – but in fact some research indicates that simply petting animals can result in lower blood pressure.
Many seniors find it hard to motivate themselves to regularly leave the house – a loving and insistent dog waiting by the door might just do the trick!
2. Avoid loneliness through pet ownership
Isolation in seniors is a very common problem. As everyday tasks get harder to accomplish and delivery services become increasingly prevalent, the temptation to rarely leave the house is a strong one. Isolation and loneliness often contribute to depression, which in turn has a proven negative effect on physical health.
As well as the direct companionship offered by a furry friend around the house, pet owners gain access to pet-related social circles, from local dog-owners to dog-walking groups and meet-ups.
3. Pain-relief through mental health benefits
Pet therapy is increasingly common across the country, especially when it comes to the elderly and pets. There is a growing body of evidence to support claims that the mental health benefits to pet ownership can have a very real and positive effect on pain relief. Pets have been proven to reduce anxiety, which many connect with the fact that they live entirely ‘in the present’. A dog doesn’t worry about tomorrow, it focuses solely on today, on ‘the here and now’, and this often rubs off on owners.
Additionally, the daily motivation to care for a pet can take a person’s mind off having to care for themselves, and often spiralling or self-focussed thought patterns can be interrupted by the needs or desires of a pet around the home.
Of course, pet ownership isn’t right for everyone and the decision to take on a pet should be carefully considered in advance. However, it’s clear that the right pet for the right person can have a hugely positive impact on a senior’s life.
Make sure to suit the pet to the owner! An excitable young Spaniel isn’t right for everyone, and nor is an over-friendly Great Dane – adopting an older dog is often a great option. Many will be well-trained and extremely grateful to be back in a home. Contact your local animal shelter or have a look at the online ASPCA database to find out more.
At The Village we encourage our residents to bring their pets when they join the community and are proud to offer support and facilities for them. One of the biggest obstacles for seniors considering assisted living is the idea of having to give up four-legged members of their family, or the stress that conditions may not be suitable for them. Well here at The Village we like to think of our residents’ pets as residents themselves! As well as our dedicated off-leash dog-park, we have an on-site pet salon where you or your groomer can provide care. We also make it easy for residents to schedule annual veterinary visits right here onsite. As you can imagine, this has been a great relief to members of our community concerned that signing up to Assisted Living meant giving up their pet.
Our residents’ pets have every chance to socialize with regular group dog-walking around The Village, and for those who need a hand we have dog-walkers available to help out with exercising your pet.
If you’re thinking about Assisted Living in the Upper Valley and would like a tour of The Village (or if you just want to pop into the salon to sample the doggy biscuits), dogs are more than welcome to attend! Just get in touch here to arrange a time.