Pets provide a sense of purpose for elderly people and can help them live longer, healthier lives. In fact, having a pet has been shown to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. Pets also keep their owners active and social, which are both important for healthy aging.
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the role that pets play in human health. A growing body of research indicates that having a pet can provide significant benefits for elderly people, including reducing the risk of loneliness and depression, improving mental health, and even helping to extend life expectancy.
Pets offer many benefits to their elderly owners. For starters, they provide a sense of companionship and love that is often missing in the lives of older adults who may live alone or be estranged from their families. Pets also offer unconditional acceptance and support, which can be very beneficial for seniors who may be struggling with self-esteem issues or feelings of isolation.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways that pets can help elderly people live longer, healthier lives.
- Pets Can Reduce Stress Levels and Lower Blood Pressure
One of the most well-documented benefits of having a pet is that they can help reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure. In fact, studies have shown that just petting a dog or cat can help to lower blood pressure and heart rate.
For example, when you pet a dog, your body releases oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety levels.
In addition, dogs (and other pets) can provide companionship and unconditional love. This can be especially beneficial for elderly people who may be isolated or lonely.
- Pets Can Encourage Exercise and Outdoor Activity
Another way that pets can help elderly people live longer is by encouraging them to get more exercise. Dogs, in particular, need to be taken on walks or runs several times a day. This can help to improve heart health and increase lifespan.
In addition, spending time outdoors has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Being in nature can help reduce stress levels, improve mental health, and even boost immunity.
- Pets Can Help Reduce Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are common problems in the elderly population. Fortunately, pets can help to reduce these feelings of sadness and worry.
Studies have shown that interacting with animals can help to release serotonin, which is a feel-good chemical in the brain. Petting a dog or cat can also help to reduce cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone.
Also, pets can provide companionship and a sense of purpose. This can be especially beneficial for elderly people who may be living alone or have lost a spouse.
- Pets Can Enhance Cognitive Function
As we age, it’s normal for our cognitive function to decline. However, studies have shown that having a pet can help to slow down this process.
For example, one study found that dog owners had better scores on tests of mental function than those who didn’t own a dog. Other research has shown that interacting with pets can help to improve memory, attention, and executive function.
- Pets Can Provide Social Support
Having a pet can also provide social support, which is essential for elderly people. Pets can give us someone to talk to, which can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
In addition, taking care of a pet can give us a sense of purpose and responsibility. This can be especially beneficial for those who are retired or no longer working.
- Pets Can Improve Sleep Quality
Finally, pets can also help to improve sleep quality. One study found that dog owners were more likely to get a good night’s sleep than those who didn’t own a dog. In addition, sleeping with a pet can help to reduce anxiety and stress levels. This can lead to improved sleep quality and overall health.
The Bottom Line
Pets can provide numerous benefits for elderly people. They can help reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and encourage exercise. In addition, they can provide companionship, and social support, and improve sleep quality. If you’re an elderly person, consider getting a pet to help improve your health and longevity.
Sainte Anne’s Companion Care is always here to serve our community. An integral part of serving our community is making sure that their pets are tended to regularly. Our seniors may not be able to take their furry friends on as many walks anymore and may not have the physical stability to nurture them. Sainte Anne’s Companion Care will give you the pleasure of knowing your pets are being fed, taken on walks and more.