Our Loving Pets, Good Companions for the Elderly
Imagine walking into a nursing home or skilled care facility and being greeted by not just a host of nurses, staff, and patients, but a friendly canine companion. Though it may seem unlikely that such an occurrence is possible, pets can actually be quite beneficial to those who are aging or elderly. Most people know that pets have the ability to lower blood pressure and offer companionship, but this is typically associated with children or adults. In fact, the elderly can benefit from the same types of interaction.
One of the top reasons that pets can serve a purpose for the elderly is to help combat loneliness.
Pets offer companionship and can help head off depression in those who may not be able to get out as often or who have few visitors. Dogs are especially good at molding their schedule to that of the owner. Small dogs can even serve as travel companions with little hassle. In addition, the routine of having to care for a pet can offer a purpose for someone who has little else to do in life. Pets will demand attention and care that may keep your elderly loved one moving with a purpose. Dogs can also offer a reason for the elderly to exercise and stay active. Whether it is a short walk in the yard or a play session in the park, a pet can keep your loved one healthier.
Science has also shown that people with pets are also less stressed overall.
Whether this is because pets require interaction with vets, groomers, and others as part of basic care or because a pet is always happy to see the owner does not matter. It is that your aging loved one is in better health. Though dogs are often the first choice of companions, those who cannot move around as much may prefer a cat or other small animal. Additionally, those in nursing homes can benefit from visits by trained animals. Even large animals such as horses can offer solace and interaction that may not otherwise be available to the older generation.
Pets may not be the answer for everyone, but they have been shown to offer physical and mental health benefits for those who are aging. Would this be a consideration for the older individuals in your life?