Many elders, like people of all ages, love their pets tremendously. Pets can offer their humans faithful companionship, love, bonding and connection.
It's long been theorized that pets are generally good for the health of their owners. Scientists have put the idea to the test with numerous research studies to determine what, if any, are the health benefits of pet ownership.
They have found the benefits to be profound and plentiful – whether the pet is furry, fluffy, feathery or fishy.
Pet Ownership is Good for the Heart… and Soul
Owning a pet has long been known to bring good feelings to a human heart. Interestingly, the overwhelming evidence shows that it can actually improve cardiovascular health.
For example, seniors who own dogs have lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and healthier levels of cholesterol than those who don't.
Many seniors who have canine companions spend time walking their dogs, which may account for one reason that they tend to be more physically active, and enjoy more frequent exercise, than their non-dog-owning counterparts.
In fact, dog-owning seniors have better mobility overall. They are also more able to complete self care activities, such as dressing or bathing, with less help.
Seniors with pets tend to have a better overall nutritional status. They have better appetites, healthier weights and improved body mass. They tend to take better care of themselves and see their doctor less frequently.
Pet Owning Seniors Report a Higher Quality of Life
Not only do elders with pets enjoy many physical health benefits, researchers have also shown significant improvements to their mental health and well-being.
Seniors with pets tend to be happier. They experience less loneliness, fewer emotional problems and lower incidence of depression.
Seniors with pets also have less tendency towards social withdrawal. Not only do they socialize with the animal themselves, but they also generally engage more easily with other people. They tend to focus more readily on the present, rather than ruminating on the past.
These mental health benefits may be in part due to the elevated serotonin levels in pet-owning seniors. Serotonin is a hormone known for its role in mental health, mood regulation, and feelings of happiness and well-being.
A Special Kind of Elder Care with Pet Care Included
Although pet ownership is clearly beneficial for many elders, it does require some planning and attention to ensure it is safe and successful.
As aging seniors face mounting difficulties caring for their own needs, it may seem especially daunting to take care of an animal too.
Fortunately, there are options for elder care that include care for their pets.
Home or elder care services, for example, provide a menu of services that can be customized to an individual's needs. Elder care aides visit seniors in their own homes, on a schedule of their choosing.
Elder care aides can help tend to the animal's food or water. They can help walk the dog or change the cat's litter box. They can also assist with transportation to the vet, groomer or other errands.
While it may take a little planning and coordination, most will find the benefits of pet ownership is well worth the effort.
After all, keeping an elder's pet in their home is an investment in the elder's health, happiness and quality of life.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elder care in Aurora, CO, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today. Call us at (303) 756-9322.