From birds of a feather to lizard lovers and cat people – there are different types of pets that fit almost any personality type! And, while pet ownership does come with responsibilities, it brings even more than a wagging tail into your life. Studies show that owning a pet can help people live longer, live happier and feel more fulfilled.
For older adults, the benefits to owning a pet can make a large impact on quality of life. If you or a loved one is considering adopting a pet, it can help to understand the benefits of owning a pet and how those benefits especially impact seniors.
Animals and Humans
When considering adopting a pet, it is important to make sure the pet’s exercise needs, diet and personality align with your lifestyle. For example, a senior who enjoys going for daily jogs and prefers a lot of time in the outdoors might be a great match with a dog who needs a lot of exercise; meanwhile, a cat might be a better choice for an older adult who prefers to spend more time indoors.
For seniors who live in a senior community, it is also important to understand the community’s rules regarding pets. Some communities allow all pets, while others have restrictions or simply do not allow pets. At Anthology of Tuckahoe, for example, pets are welcome! In fact, Anthology of Tuckahoe, Anthology of Charlottesville and several other Anthology Senior Living communities are celebrating National Pet Month in the month of May by inviting families to tour their communities with their pets! Everyone who brings a pet to take a tour will receive a free treat for their pet!
Five Benefits of Owning a Pet
Anyone who is already a pet owner knows the incredible love and affection pets can provide. And, for any pet owner, there are also excellent health benefits brought on by the relationship with a pet. For seniors these health benefits can be especially important. Here are five of the health benefits to pet ownership:
A pet supports your social life. It can be hard to stay social and active in our golden years. While residents of Anthology of Midlothian have access to social opportunities through things like their community activity and game rooms and their fitness and wellness programs, some seniors who live alone find socialization to be a challenge. Pets can help seniors to meet people and find social support, both of which are important to long-term mental health.
Pets keep you active and fit. Exercising regularly helps seniors to remain independent and can prevent chronic health problems. At Anthology of Tanglewood, residents are invited to attend fitness classes that include options such as balance and strength training, yoga and water aerobics. For pet owners, exercise is often part of the daily routine. Many pets require some time outdoors, need to be taken for walks or need some social interaction each day. This encourages pet owners to stay active and move, as well.
Pet ownership gives life purpose. For some older adults, gradual changes in social roles and family responsibilities can bring on a diminished sense of purpose. This decline in purpose can create symptoms of depression and cause seniors to disengage even further. However, for pet owners, caring for and tending to the needs of the pet offers a very rewarding sense of purpose and creates a daily routine. Many senior pet owners report feeling more self-confident and useful when caring for their pets.
Pets help to reduce stress. Managing stress can become more difficult as we age. Chronic diseases can burden the body and the mind, while changing roles and growing health needs can lead to rising anxiety levels. However, pet owners get the benefits of the love and affection pets provide, while also receiving a healthy boost! Interacting with animals is shown to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels, which reduces feelings of stress.
Owning a pet reduces risk of depression. Depression can occur for a multitude of reasons, and older adults are at even greater risk. More than six million Americans over the age of 65 experience late-in-life depression. For seniors who own a pet, there are many health benefits that add up to a reduced risk of depression. Not only does the socialization and increased exercise brought on by pet ownership help to reduce depression risks, but interacting with the pet itself can bring a health boost! The happy antics and playful disposition of animals can divert attention away from aches, pains and the stresses of life.
Finding the Right Fit
Anthology Senior Living is committed to the health, happiness and well-being of our residents. Recognizing the positive power of pet ownership is part of that commitment. We want our residents to have the support, the tools and the environment to build the life they want. Interested in learning more about Anthology Senior Living? Contact us today to learn more or to set up a tour for you and your pet!