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How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy

by Richard Bitner
How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy

For almost all of human history, pets have provided people with companionship and four-legged assistance. While pets aren’t for everyone, they can be a great source of joy for many people. For the elderly, they can be even more, helping seniors stay physically and emotionally healthy. How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy
In recent years, plenty of scientific study has confirmed that pets do wonders for the well-being of seniors. For those of us who care for the elderly, whether as a family caregiver or a senior care provider, these studies show that furry friends can play a key role in keeping seniors healthy in body, mind, and spirit. How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy

Pets Offer Range of Physical & Emotional Benefits

Seniors who own pets experience a wide range of benefits, including some that you might not expect. Pets don’t simply provide the emotional benefits of companionship, they also help seniors stay physically healthy in a number of ways. Here are just a few of the key health benefits to pet ownership that scientists have observed:

  • A recent study has found that seniors with pet dogs are much more active than other seniors, walking a full 22 minutes a day more on average.
  • Pet ownership is linked to improved cardiovascular health. In one study of more than 5,700 men and women, pet owners were found to have lower levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
  • Pets can literally change the behavior of seniors for the better. A review of several different studies found that nursing home residents become more alert, more relaxed, and less aggressive when they have pets nearby.
  • Owning a pet can also reduce feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression, helping seniors live richer and more fulfilling emotional lives.

Is Pet Ownership Right for Your Loved One?

While pet ownership can offer a range of physical and emotional benefits for seniors, owning a pet certainly isn’t for everyone. Many seniors — especially those who have never owned a pet before — simply don’t have the energy or ability to welcome an animal into their home.
Some things you might want to consider before suggesting a pet for your loved one include:

  • Whether or not your loved one will be able to feed and look after their new pet.
  • If your loved one has the experience with animals that most seniors need for pet ownership.
  • Are your loved one’s finances able to support a four-legged companion?
  • What type of animal will be best for your loved one?
  • Will you be able to find a pet with the right temperament for your loved one?


In cases where pet ownership isn’t possible, you may want to consider senior care services such as companion care. Companion care services provide seniors with friendly human interaction that can offer some of the same emotional benefits as pet ownership. Companion caregivers can help seniors with activities of daily living and friendly conversation without the strain pet ownership can sometimes bring. How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy

If you think companion care services may be right for your loved one, contact your local Visiting Angels office today to learn more about services available in your area.


How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy

How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy How Pets Keep Seniors Healthy & Happy

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