Pets for Seniors Enhance the Quality of Life


Filed under Friends & Family

Recent studies indicate that seniors who own pets, live longer, experience better health and enjoy life much more than the senior who has no pet companionship. Results have shown that pet owners often experience a decrease in temperature, stress level, and even blood pressure! In addition to this luxury of companionship, pets can provide joy, entertainment, love and security and even calm the pet owner. Pets love you for being you — not for the psychological games you play — not “only” for the treats you shell out frequently — they are forgiving, loyal and love you unconditionally.

Learn the 6 ways pet ownership can enhance a senior’s quality of life:

#1. Companionship:

An increasing number of hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are now using pet therapy on their senior patients and the results are very encouraging. These patients are finding that having a four legged friend can be comforting, joyful and provide a feeling of security. Studies have proven that having a pet, improves the overall well-being of seniors, for many reasons. Often, seniors are unable to interact socially, perhaps through remoteness or immobility. Sometimes all recreational activity is limited for that senior. A pet can supply both of these things. Animal companionship lessens loneliness, the feeling of isolation and boredom and has even been known to eliminate depression in some patients.

#2. Increases Self-Worth:

Just the need to love and clean and provide for a pet, can certainly increase the self worth of that senior. A pet owner may certainly revel in the attention and affection this pet will offer. Think of the satisfaction derived from seeing this pet thrive and become your best friend — there is nothing like it.

#3. Loyalty and unconditional love received:

This feeling shared with your special pet is second to none. Regardless of the weather, lack of special friends, immobility, poor health — your pet will be by your side assuring you, you are the greatest ! Your pet may even become your most faithful travel companion (depending on your choice of pet, the mode of travel and personalities of both you and your pet)

#4. Improved quality of life:

By exercising your pet in the fresh air, your appetite should increase due to the increased activity, your interest in the outside world increases , you should experience great happiness and you focus less on your physical and emotional aches and pains. You gain a sense of purpose and a compelling reason to take good care of yourself so you can care for your “best friend”. This responsibility for providing protection and care for your pet should be a wonderful diversion for the pet owner.

#5. Stress Reduction:

What could be more tranquil than watching an aquarium full of tropical fish — even, a simple act of petting a dog has been shown to significantly lower a person’s blood pressure. Therapy pets as companions, for AIDS patients, cancer patients, those afflicted with mental illness and seniors, are much more commonly used today. This Pet Therapy concept is experiencing wonderful success in helping many patients experience greatly improved

emotional and physical health.

#6. Self Reliance Increase:

Often the fear of being victimized or abused is greatly decreased when the pet owner is in the company of their pet. This self reliance is especially evident when sharing a residence with a dog. Researchers speculate that the “care-taking role” involved in pet ownership “often provides older people with a sense of purpose and responsibility and encourage them to be less apathetic and more active in day-to-day activities.” (From the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, March 1999) Pets, like people display their own unique personalities — IF you or a senior you know are looking for that special friend — Assess the potential pet owner’s unique personality!

Some unique personalities:

• A Couch potato:

Possible choices may be, a tranquil indoor cat — a parakeet, finch or lovebird, or a turtle. A pet that may happily entertain themselves with a mirror, a bell, a ball of wool or a scratching post. Remember with all these pets, they must be fed and watered regularly, ALSO, make certain they have clean bed, kitty litter or cage (whatever the pet may need).

• A High-Energy City Dweller:

Possible choices may be, a bird, an aquarium with exotic fish, a ferret OR possibly a gecko!

• A Country Boy (or girl): A larger dog (lab or retriever) are some good choices for walks, hikes, swimming, fishing , or enjoying rides in the country.

• The traveller:

Always on the go — Perhaps a pet with little care needed or a travel ready dog such as; a poodle, Chihuahua or Yorkshire terrier are excellent travel companions and are usually airline friendly. Fish, birds would also make a good companion for those breaks in between trips.

If considering a pet for the elderly — keep in mind any restrictions or limitations the senior may have. Size and personality of a dog are important aspects to consider, if a senior wishes to have this type of pet. A small dog is often the pet of choice — but also consider the temperament of the dog.

Smaller dogs are usually easier to handle (unless an exceptionally active little one, i.e. a Jack Russell, however, very cute!) and tend to be less maintenance and easier to handle than larger ones. Usually a smaller dog are also beneficial for the elderly because they make great lap dogs — of course, you need to research the breed’s characteristics first.

Following are some choices of breed that the senior may enjoy:

– Pomeranian — cute, cuddly, perky — a lovely companion!
– Shih Tzu — friendly, gentle, alert and love companionship.
– Schnauzer — two sizes, miniature and standard — protective, wants to please — needs exercise and grooming.
– Boston Terrier — small size, very protective, laid back and friendly.
– Cocker Spaniel — Very patient and docile, little exercise, but regular grooming.
– Pug — Loves loving and to cuddle — but can be playful!
– Toy poodle — Absolutely loves attention — enjoys people presence immensely.

These are just a few breeds that seniors may appreciate — it may be wise to visit a humane society, pet shop and research online for just the companion the senior will love and enjoy. For each and everyone of us who has ever owned or ever cared for a companion animal, we should not underestimate their important role in emotional health. Pets offer unconditional love and attention, they make us laugh, help us relax and divert us from daily issues. The psychological benefits of pet ownership can be amazing!

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