Author: Roger Alexander, LNFA
Date Posted: 02/24/2012
It’s impossible to measure the joy that pets bring into our lives. For many elderly people, pets are their reason to get up each morning!
Assisted Living facilities and nursing homes have discovered the benefits of having pets around. Therapy pets are a huge hit at any senior community. Even those with dementia will often respond to the wagging tail of a canine or the rich fur of the feline variety. Their love is unconditional and that acceptance can be the best medicine for any senior.
There are so many health benefits to keeping a pet.
- They encourage us to keep a schedule.
- Their need for taking walks can get us out into the fresh air for good exercise.
- Who doesn’t stop to talk to someone walking their dog? Pets can encourage social interactions between the elderly and other people.
- For the older adult who has lost their spouse, a pet plays a vital role in working through the grief.
- Pets give us a sense of being needed. Older people who have declined in strength and ability still need to feel that they’re counted on. Pets depend on us for love, food and exercise.
- Experts have found that a pet can help lower blood pressure and ease the symptoms of depression.
- Who doesn’t talk to their pet? Verbal responses are known to stimulate the brain and help keep dementia at bay.
- For an elder who suffers with arthritis or is recovering from an injury, a pet can also be a part of their therapy.
- Throwing a dog a ball can help with limited mobility and brushing their pet’s hair can improve their grasp.
The love and companionship of pets are tonics to our bodies and our spirits!
My friend, Irene is in her mid 80′s and loves her dog, Sophie. “I just need a dog,” she said. “If I’ve been out and come back home, she treats me like the Queen of England!”
Jim Roswurm, a retired veterinarian, enjoys his two Cairn Terriers. “They have an unbridled enthusiasm for life,” he said. “Just a joy for living. It’s like a spark plug start for me even when this old body is tired. It’s impossible to stay depressed when my little dogs bring me a ball or a big, wet kiss.”
So, if you have a lonely elder, the chances are good that a pet would bring them great joy, a better outlook on life and the companionship they need.
How else do you find pets to be beneficial for the elderly?