Pets can help ease the transition into retirement for today's elderly population. Pets provide companionship and responsibility to an otherwise lonely demographic and help make both living home alone or in a retirement home much easier. While companionship is an obvious benefit to owning a pet, there are many unforeseen advantages that adding a pet into an older person's lifestyle may bring.
Photo credit: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue
Because pets require regular exercise, they encourage their owners to get active. After retirement, exercise can become a bit of a struggle, but 15-20 minutes of physical activity each day can help regulate body weight and prevent weight related diseases like diabetes. Regular exercise has also been linked to stronger general mental health.
In addition to the company a pet provides, many retirees have found that owning a pet encourages more folks to talk to them while they're walking their pet. Loneliness in the elderly is common, so having a pet that inspires conversation with strangers helps ease the transition from a conversational workplace to living alone or a less stimulating lifestyle. Pets in nursing homes have also been found to encourage conversation between the nursing staff and the residents.
Sensation of Touch
According to USA Today, having a pet encourages increased physical contact. Petting an animal has been linked to lower blood pressure and lower stress levels, both problems among the elderly. And because pets require lots of stimulation through touch, it's often not difficult for elderly owners to oblige a nagging dog or cat.
Because animals need routine feeding and maintenance, pets provide a sense of normalcy and routine to their owners. This routine can help break up the monotony of a day and can help remind owners that it's time to eat and walk themselves, something that's often forgotten among the elderly. Walking and feeding a pet can replace the job-like tasks the elderly leave behind when they exit the workplace.
While pet ownership can sometimes lead to depression if an animal is unable to follow an elderly person into a nursing home or assisted living facility, many homes like those at Sunshine Retirement communities are now welcoming the idea of animal companions for their residents. Animals help bring happiness and companionship back into an elderly person's life and can often be the difference between additional medication to help treat unhappiness and a successful transition into older age.
Savannah Coulsen is a freelance writer. She lives in Raleigh. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru. Savannah found this information on retirement homes from Sunshine Retirement Living.