What hasn’t been written about the benefits of pet ownership, especially for seniors? While it may seem natural that seniors can benefit from a furry companion, there is a wealth of scientific evidence of the amazing benefits of pet ownership. Numerous studies have found that pets can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, fight depression and improve heart health. And don’t forget the that petting an animal can set off a chemical chain reaction in the brain that helps to lower levels of cortisol, the stress-inducing hormone and increases serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Who doesn’t want to receive ALL of those benefits!
There’s also increasing study into the benefits of pet ownership for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. In a recent article, Kathleen Allen wrote, “By their very nature, pets do not judge, and they are not critical. And for someone with dementia, those qualities make them a good companion. Their very presence can help reduce the effects of dementia—anxiety, agitation, irritability, depression, and loneliness.”
One question that might come to mind is how to decide which animal a senior should get. It is possible (and still beneficial!) to choose a less common animal like a bird or turtle, but most people will want an animal that they can interact with. Most people will turn to either a dog or a cat, but which to choose?
Dogs vs. Cats
Dogs are fantastic companions and are ideal for people who are active, or who want to become more active. Dogs usually need a regular exercise routine, which means walks around the neighborhood or park will be the norm for those with dogs. They are also quite dependent on their owners. In return, dogs are loyal companions who often show their unconditional love and affection for the human(s) in their life.
Cats, on the other hand, are typically more independent and don’t require special exercise regimes. They are perfect for folks who travel often, or who aren’t able to go for a daily walk. Cats are also fantastic companions, even if maybe not as effusive as your average canine. Often cats also love to cuddle on the lap of their owner or sit next to them. They are also happy to play with toys like a laser or small fishing pole, which one can use from their favorite chair, making them ideal animal friends for people with limited mobility.
Note some cats are more obvious in their needs than others. This is my cat, Tom, who was clearly tired of my blog writing – even if it was about him (or his cousins)!
If you are thinking about bringing a pet into your home, please consider adoption. There are a host of animals in need of a forever home right here in Central Arkansas. You can learn more about animal adoption and the furry friends who are waiting for someone just like you at any of these links: