Studies have shown that independently living seniors who have pets tend to have better physical and mental health than those who don’t. They are generally more active, they cope better with stress and they have better overall health.
The presence of companion animals has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and decrease depression and anxiety. On study suggests that this is because companion animals have more consistent behavior compared to our human companions and that they offer unconditional affection. Simply petting them makes us feel better.
Pets help keep seniors active and that results in happier, healthier lives. Our pets need walking, feeding, grooming, playtime and affection. All of these activities require some action from their owners. The pet’s needs keep the owner moving around, which benefits the cardiovascular system and keeps joints limber and flexible. Anything from walking a dog to brushing a cat is helpful.
Animals have an especially important role for seniors who have lost their human companion or who don’t have other family members or friends close-by. Having a bond with a pet helps combat social isolation. They provide interaction and companionship, which helps fight depression. Also, the responsibility of caring for a pet gives the owner a sense of purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. Pets’ needs can actually help a senior maintain a healthy routine of eating, sleeping, getting out of bed and going grocery shopping, because both the person and the pet have similar requirements.
When it comes to helping a senior choose a new pet, it’s best to look at adopting an older animal, rather than picking out a puppy. A young animal requires a great deal of energy, patience and work, and the task of training a puppy may be overwhelming. An older pet who is already trained and well behaved is a perfect match for a senior who just wants a lower-maintenance friend. An adult dog or cat is a wonderful addition to a senior home, and the pet and person can provide a lifetime of unconditional love for one another.
Senior pets are often overlooked in the shelter, so we are always happy to help pair them up with an older person who will love and appreciate them. We are always willing to work with seniors on the adoption fees when money is a concern, and we are looking into new programs that would eventually allow us to offer free adoptions of older pets to older people.
Just owning and having contact with pets helps elderly pet parents live longer, healthier and more enjoyable lives.
If you have an older friend or family member who might benefit from a furry friend, please bring them to Salt Lake County Animal Services, and we’ll help them find the perfect animal companion.