Senior man with dog on bench outside

Seniors and Caring for Pets: The Impressive Benefits

America is a nation of pet lovers. More than 67% of the population own at least one pet. Ranging from cats and dogs to reptiles and tropical fish, people just love their animal companions. But did you know that there are all kinds of benefits to caring for dogs, cats, and other animals as a senior? From keeping fit to staying positive, pets can help senior owners enjoy a better quality of life. If you or a loved one is living in an assisted living community, pet ownership could be ideal. Let’s learn more about caring for pets as a senior. There might be more advantages than you think. Keep reading to find out about all the hidden benefits of pets.

Emotional Support

Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on sometimes. If that shoulder is covered in soft, warm fur, all the better! As we grow older, we often face all kinds of new challenges. We are more likely to lose friends and loves ones, or face health scares. When these hard times come around, a pet can make it all better. Petting a cat or dog can help to lower blood pressure and reduce other signs of emotional distress. If you’re feeling sad or worried, a loyal animal companion can help you to forget your troubles or at least lessen the pain. Pets are great listeners too! Even though they might not understand all the words we’re saying, sometimes it’s nice to pour your heart out with no fear of judgment. Pets can even accompany their owners when out and about, offering emotional support during tough times. A cat or dog doesn’t have to be a registered support animal to offer a helping hand to their humans.

Great Exercise

Keeping active is important for everyone. But it becomes even more important for seniors. Without regular exercise, senior citizens are at greater risk of a range of health problems. Dog ownership is an excellent way to help a senior citizen get regular exercise. Most dogs require at least half an hour of walking each day. Getting outside and taking a short walk is the ideal exercise for most seniors. Most of our communities have plenty of spots for you to enjoy walking your dog! And you might meet new friends at these pet owner hot spots! Even caring for cats and other pets can help senior citizens to be more active. Feeding your pet, playing with your pet, going to the store to buy supplies, and cleaning up after an animal can help you to get moving!

Cognitive Benefits of Caring for Pets

Taking care of a pet doesn’t just keep you physically active. It can also help you to exercise your mind. This is especially valuable for senior citizens who are at increased risk of dementia and other cognitive issues. Playing games or interacting with a pet in a senior living community or assisted living is a great way to keep those neurons firing. Taking care of pets also helps seniors to use their problem-solving skills. From choosing the right toys for a cat to thinking up creative ways to keep a dog hydrated there is a lot to keep minds occupied. Practicing these problem skills can help to keep the brain healthy.

A Sense of Responsibility

A pet gives senior citizens a little responsibility. For those who may have worked and cared for family members all their lives, transitioning to senior living facilities can leave them feeling purposeless. Owning a pet gives a person something to structure their life around. Senior citizens know they need to get up to feed or walk their pets. That helps them keep a sense of purpose and to feel needed.

Promote Social Interactions

Sometimes, senior citizens are prone to loneliness. After retiring, they may find themselves losing touch with old friends and coworkers. But a pet can help senior citizens to make new friends! Dog owners often meet other dog owners when out for a walk. When one dog approaches another, it’s hard not to get into a conversation. And dog owners can chat about all sorts of things, from their favorite local walking routes to the best snacks to give to a pooch. Sometimes, these simple chats can lead to blossoming friendships. In many cases, dog owners will visit the same parks day after day, just to catch up with their friends. Cat owners could bond with their pets too. Shared pet ownership gives people something in common to talk about and build a relationship around. Sometimes, clubs or online communities for different pet owners are a great source of socialization and new friends.

Greater Control

Many senior citizens struggle with a feeling of loss of control over their own lives. This can be daunting and leave some seniors feeling depressed. Pet ownership is one of the best ways for seniors to take control. From getting a dog from a shelter to researching the best cat breeds, there are lots of choices to be made around pet ownership. Choosing an animal companion can be fun and fulfilling too. Bringing your new pet home for the first time is one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences imaginable.

Pet-Friendly Senior Care at Inspired Living

Here at Inspired Living, we understand the benefits of pet ownership for seniors. That’s why we do our best to make life easy for residents with animal friends. Many of our facilities offer dedicated dog-walking areas or dog parks, so caring for pets is made easy. Want to learn more about our services? Contact us today and arrange a tour.