As people grow older, they may experience loneliness and physical decline. Seniors can feel lonely and become depressed. One way to combat these negative and often unavoidable aspects of life is to own a cat or dog.
Dogs with the right temperament and character can completely change the lives of older people in many ways. They provide companionship, comfort, joy and responsibility. They are always there when needed or they are never too busy to keep you company. Small dogs are especially great for the elderly.
Below we discuss the many benefits of adding a dog into your life as a senior. If you have an elderly relative or are one yourself, read on to find out if a dog is a good fit for you.
Physical Health Benefits
Owning a dog comes with a variety of health benefits. Among the physical benefits are blood pressure, reduced heart rate and lower cholesterol. Having a dog will make you exercise. Studies have even found that older people who own pets will visit the doctor’s office 21% less often than seniors who do not own a dog.
Whether getting out of your house to take your dog on a walk or heading to the pet store to get your dog some food, a dog will likely increase your exercise tremendously. Dogs motivate you to stay active and healthy even in old age. This is another great benefit of having a pet. The health benefits of exercise as you get older are endless.
Mental Health Benefits
Dogs have been shown to reduce stress in their humans. One study shows that a dog’s caregivers had significantly lower blood pressure and stress reactivity after three months. Their blood pressure was lowest on days spent exclusively with their dogs.
Dogs also require you to leave the house and socialize with other people. You have to walk them, take them to the groomer, the vet and more. They demand a lot and that is good for lonely older adults. Contact with other people helps relieve depression and stress and connects you to life and the outside world.
In addition, being a dog parent offers many other social activities. You can take walks together, spend time at the dog park, attend charity dog events and befriend other seniors with dogs. This adds social interaction and excitement to your life.
As life goes on, you may feel that your desire to be useful and needed is waning. As your kids grow into independent adults and your partner passes away, you may feel no longer needed.
Having a pet is a big responsibility and it needs you to survive. This kind of responsibility gives your life meaning again and makes you feel important.
You have to take care of your dog’s health by checking on him regularly, visiting the vet and exercising regularly. You also need to take care of your dog’s diet by buying the best dog food for your dog and feeding him on a fixed schedule. Research what foods are best for your dog to optimize your own diet as well. When a dog depends on you to survive, you will tend to take better care of him and yourself.
Having a pet in the house forces you to develop a routine. Some days you might not feel like getting out of bed, which is understandable as you get older. With a dog, you have to get up to let it go to the bathroom or feed it.
Dogs challenge and motivate you to stick to a schedule and give structure to your day. This helps you make the most of your days and combat depression with a consistent schedule.
Dogs provide security. They are like a living alarm system in your home and can help you feel safe and secure when you live alone. Thieves are often deterred by dog barking even if your guard dog weighs less than 20 pounds. Taking a dog for a walk is also safer because you are more likely to dare to regularly go out of the house.
At the end of the day, by getting a pet, you are investing in another life. You are helping an animal live a fulfilling life which, in turn, makes your life fulfilling too. If you or a loved one are alone and feeling depressed or unfulfilled, adding a small dog to your household could completely change your life and make your last years some of the best.
Let us know in the comment section whether you are adopting a pet as a senior.