Pathway to Living blog

Pathway to Living Blog

Return To Blog

The Benefits of Owning Pets for Seniors

|

Molly Crockett is a lifestyle writer at Ukwritings and Essayroo, where she shares her unique lifestyle tips and personal development advice with her audience. In her spare time, Molly enjoys teaching writing skills for Boomessays.


Owning a pet can be therapeutic and even enhance a person’s physical and mental well-being, which can be even more important in a senior’s life. Interacting with an animal on a daily basis can potentially result in health benefits, from reducing stress and lowering blood pressure, and boosted mood and mental health through increased social activity and physical activity.


Improve mobility and independence
Dog owners are generally more likely to move during the day. By taking regular walks, they also gain structure and are more functional throughout the day in addition to increasing their mobility and daily physical activity. The increased movement from walking regularly can also aid in cardiovascular health, by lowering risk of high cholesterol, blood pressure, or unhealthy weight gain.


Reduce anxiety, depression, and loneliness
Having a pet around boosts the release of oxytocin, a hormone which is relaxing, and lowers the production of cortisol, a hormone which causes stress. Interacting with a pet can consequently reduce tension and anxiety and help those who struggle with mental illness.

When it comes to those who struggle with depression or loneliness, the affection and attention that the owner receives from their pet can help build their self-esteem and confidence, as well as giving them a sense of purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. Having a pet can boost the mood through constant companionship and the motivation of being responsible for the care of another living creature. 


As Bradley Shepard, a health writer at Australianhelp and Academized, says: “Interacting with a pet can also lead to increased production of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, which all increase feelings of happiness. “

Ease physical pain
While Oxytocin is often primarily associated with feelings of happiness and relaxation, it also beneficial for the physical state of the individual, easing headaches, fibromyalgia, muscle cramps, and has anti-inflammatory properties, too. 


Aid dementia or PTSD behaviors 
Having a companion around can have a calming presence, helping to decrease aggressive outbursts and paranoia in those living with Dementia. Their pets can be soothing and provide a positive atmosphere, while also promoting more social interactions. 


Similarly, pets can also be helpful for individuals with disorders like PTSD by providing company and emotional support and helping to heal their emotional scars.

 
These are just some examples of instances where finding an ESA or PSA can be beneficial: an ESA, or Emotional Support Animal, is a pet which is particularly helpful for soothing severe anxiety or other mood issues, but is not trained; a PSA, or Psychiatric Service Animal, is a pet which is trained to assist its owner in specific ways or with specific tasks. For seniors with Dementia, a PSA can help ensure they remember to take medication, for example, while an ESA can provide only emotional comfort. Trained service animals can be beneficial for assisting sufferers of PTSD by knowing how to react and help their owner through various PTSD symptoms including flashbacks and nightmares.


Kimberly Lombard, a lifestyle blogger at Paperfellows and Stateofwriting, reminds us: “It is important to pursue these choices if you think they may be needed and bear in mind that the distinction between the two is important – there are services which can provide ESAs or PSAs, though they will need to be prescribed by a mental health professional.”


Improve concentration and recall
Engaging with a pet can encourage improved awareness, attention, and focus, as the mental stimulation of the mind is beneficial for the on-going maintenance of mental faculties in senior citizens. This can also contribute to enhancing recall and concentration in everyday life.


Whether you are seeking a companion, emotional support, a sense of purpose, or assistance with mental illness, finding the perfect pet to keep you company in your senior years can be hugely beneficial – it can improve quality of life, boost mood, help you retain independence, and relieve countless symptoms of illness or age.