Pet ownership benefits everyone, but seniors may experience more benefits than other people when it comes to owning and taking care of a pet such as a dog or cat. Having a pet in the home may even help a person live longer and have a better quality of life. All the pets ask for in return is some attention, food and care. Consider these top benefits of pet ownership for seniors.
Provide a Sense of Purpose
When a senior citizen has retired from a job and their family has moved away, they may lose their sense of purpose. Owning a pet instills a strong feeling of being needed. Owning a pet motivates an older person to get up and seize the day. Dogs and cats make it known that they are hungry, want their ears scratched or are ready to play or go for a walk. Having the responsibility of a pet restores the sense of purpose and feeling useful.
Offer Unconditional Love
Unlike a person, a pet does not put conditions on the love that it shows. A dog or cat is always happy to see its owner. Dogs express this through quick barks, showing their bellies, putting a paw on the owner’s leg or dropping a toy on the owner’s lap. Cats are not always as obvious about showing their love, but they will purr, give ankle or leg rubs or sit on their owners’ laps. Pets also seem to recognize the moods of their owners, and they may help seniors avoid problems such as feelings of loneliness or depression.
Improve Immune System Functions
Having a pet may help improve the immune system functions of older adults. Decreasing the sense of loneliness lowers stress hormones. Those stress hormones inhibit the functions of the immune system. Stroking the fur of a pet also reduces stress. Not only is the stroking relaxing for the dog or cat, but it is also calming to a person. Pets also inspire their owners to get up and move their bodies. Walking a dog is good exercise for a senior, and regular exercise also gives the immune system a boost.
Facilitate Social Interactions
Pets make it easier to socialize. Seniors living alone or who are unable to drive may not have as many social interactions as they did during their younger years. Going outside on a walk with the dog makes it easy to stop and say hello to neighbors or other people who like dogs. Although most cats do not want to be walked, having a cat is always a great subject for conversations at community centers, libraries and other places seniors might go.
Easy to Care for
Seniors looking for an easy-to-care-for pet would do well to select a cat. Adopting an adult cat from an animal shelter is an ideal pet choice. The adult cats are calm and already trained on how to use a litter box. Cats don’t have to be let out in order to do their business. Cats also do not require walks as you can play with them with a string while sitting.
Author Bio: Paige Jirsa– I work with Top10.Today, a shopping comparison site, where we strive to help consumers find the best quality and priced products.