Furry Friends: 4 Ways Pets Can Improve the Quality of Life of Seniors

By Hannah Whittenly on Nov 03, 2016 at 9:00 am

Furry Friends: 4 Ways Pets Can Improve the Quality of Life of Seniors

You have probably heard how pet owners petting their dogs or cats experience a period of lowered blood pressure. This is more than just a theory; it was proven in a study conducted by the University of South Carolina. Right off the bat, pets have the potential of helping with hypertension—which is definitely an issue among many of the senior population. Lowered blood pressure helps reduce risks of cardiovascular disease and kidney problems. Other than that, though, there are many more ways pets can improve quality of life, and here are four more examples to consider.

Providing Companionship

Pets provide companionship to seniors who live alone, but they are also beneficial to senior couples as well. A pet requires daily care, and this opportunity to be responsible for the care of another living being is beneficial to seniors, especially ones used to caring for children. The caregiving results in reciprocal companionship being enjoyed both for seniors and their pets.

Providing Trained Assistance

Seniors who choose to invest in acquiring a service dog can enjoy all the benefits of having a regular pet and also have assistance with cognitive or physical disabilities that may be occurring. Service dogs for seniors can provide specific help in specialized areas, including help getting up after a fall, opening doors, retrieving fallen items and much more. There is even research being done in the development of service dogs for people with dementia caused by diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Security and Protection

There are two things burglars who have been interviewed share that they do not like. The first is a dog at the home they want to rob and the second is an alarm system. Dogs have teeth and are not easy to circumvent. It has been pointed out that even tiny dogs, such as Chihuahuas, that make a ruckus when a stranger approaches make criminals nervous. That is because their barking is basically an alarm that alerts the residents. This gives them the opportunity to take refuge, call 911 or take other steps to protect themselves. A yappy dog takes away all element of surprise and even alerts neighbors when seniors are not home.

Helping to Relieve Fear and Anxiety

Loneliness, isolation and boredom are serious issues many seniors face. The routine of careers and raising families has passed, and a quiet retired life is not always welcome. Pets provide someone to come home to. They do not judge, and they are excited to see their owners. This is especially true of dogs, but there are some cats that really enjoy being close to their human owners as well. Both cats and dogs will often jump up on a bed or a couch to cuddle with their humans. This type of closeness of another living being can help relieve the fears and anxiety that elderly people have about of living alone.

A Note About Pet Care

Because these animals tend to serve our elderly relatives, it is important that we make sure that they are taken care of. If an elderly person is incapable of feeding their cat or dog, then special services should be set up to make sure that those needs are met. Also, if he or she tends to frequent respite homes like Cornerstone Hospice and Pallative Care, then alternative care options should be set up for the animals. Just in case they end up in the hospital, someone close to the elderly individuals should also have a spare key so that they can make sure that they are taken care of if there is ever an emergency.

If your older loved ones have expressed a sense of loneliness, then just know that a pet would be an amazing way to lift their spirits and provide the comfort that they seek. You can be assured that any cat or dog from any shelter would be willing to love on them.

Posted in Health by Hannah Whittenly on Nov 03, 2016 at 9:00 am

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