There’s something quite special and unique when it comes to the power of pets and how it affects senior health. Studies have shown pet companionship can improve one’s well-being by introducing amazing physical and mental benefits. And the truth is, it doesn’t matter how old or how young you are; the companionship of a pet can significantly improve anyone’s quality of life. Take a look at this list of some of the most notable health benefits of pets for seniors.
Improved Mood and Reduced Anxiety
Research has shown that having an animal companion can lower stress levels and boost the production of serotonin — one of the happy hormones. These work in tandem to boost your mood and calm you down, reducing anxiety and lowering your risk for depression. Because stress is a risk factor for many physical health conditions, improving your stress levels can also result in other benefits, such as lower blood pressure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.” Having a pet to care for provides companionship and unconditional affection, decreases loneliness and feelings of isolation, and lessens the potential of associated health risks.
Increased Physical Activity and Heart Health
Perhaps one of the most obvious health benefits of a pet is the increased physical activity they bring. A huge part of responsible pet ownership is ensuring they get their required daily exercise. For dogs, this means taking them out for a walk, and for cats and other less active pets, this can mean playing with them. In either case, it gives aging adults added incentive to be active, which also supports cardiovascular health.
Physical exercise brings another health benefit: improved brain health. Regular moderate-intensity aerobic activities, including walking, reduce the risk of cognitive decline. In fact, it is especially helpful for improving memory and preventing dementia. The mental health benefits of pets, such as lower stress and anxiety and increased feelings of calm, also contribute to better overall brain health.