Pets are truly wonderful creatures that are part of most families in the United States. They are known to provide company and keep you grateful when lonely. The benefits of owning pets are of greater importance to older adults. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that they “increase opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, contribute to better cognitive function in older adults, and provide more opportunities to socialize.”
The importance of owning pets for older adults goes beyond improving cognitive function to helping prevent the growth of life-threatening diseases. Let’s look at the health benefits of pets for older adults.
10 Profound Health Benefits of Pets for Older Adults
Whether it’s a dog, cat or a bird, pets can have tremendous beneficial effects on older ones. Here are some of the health benefits of pets for older adults.
1. Reduces the risk of having life-threatening diseases
Research has shown that people who own a dog walk an average of 22 minutes longer than individuals who don’t. A 22 minutes walk is essential for building fitness in older adults.
Improved fitness is linked to improved cardiovascular health, which lowers the risk of illnesses relating to blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels.
2. Pets offers emotional support for older adults
Pets allow older adults to care for a living being. This helps to give purpose, which builds a structure in their daily lives. So the older adults have a reason to wake up every morning, creating a mutual love bond between them and the pets.
According to research, more than three= quarter of pet owners has attested to the fact that animals help reduce their stress and loneliness. Decreased stress and loneliness are excellent remedies against anxiety and PTSD.
3. Pets helps older adults to build a social support network
People who own pets are 60% more likely to easily get to know people in the neighborhood than those that do not. A study has proven that owning a pet is the third most common way to easily connect to people in your neighborhood.
Apart from pets serving as great companions to older adults, it helps them build a social support network which is highly beneficial to their mental and social health and can influence their physical health as well.
4. Pets help to speed up recovery in older adults
A study by the University of Michigan showed that 70% of older adults attest to their pets helping them cope with emotional or physical symptoms, and 45% stated that their pets help to distract their minds from the pain.
Many adult care homes, hospitals, and long-term care centers have pet visitation programs for patients. Dogs, especially effective, are very effective in providing support for older adults with physical disabilities and helping them cope better.
5. Pets help older adults deal with loneliness and Isolation
The presence of a pet makes older adults feel less lonely. They are simply the perfect companion for older adults who lives alone or isolated. Research has shown that older adults who own pets are 36% less likely to suffer from loneliness than those who don’t. Owning and caring for a pet is one of the healthy ways to deal with loneliness.
6. Pets helps older adults to be mindful
Mindfulness isn’t just being aware of what you are doing. It is the ability to be fully present, knowing who you are and what you are doing. When adults grow older, the mindfulness of their environment and people tend to decrease.
Playing with pets is shown to help older adults retain their mindfulness. A study on this indicates that 87% of people feel more relaxed after having time with a pet.
Taking care of a pet helps older adults to be alert and better concentrated so that the pets won’t be neglected. This, in turn, improves the mindfulness of their surrounding.
7. Pets help older adults stay active
Having pets can make seniors exercise and engage in various physical activities.
Going for dog-walks is a great way to stay active. The benefits of walking for older ones include improved cardiovascular fitness, reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and stronger bones.
8. Increased sense of purpose
Owning a pet can provide a sense of purpose and structure to an older adult’s daily routine. This is especially true for those who may be retired or living alone.
Pets require regular care, such as feeding, walking, and grooming, which can provide a daily routine and sense of responsibility.
Having a pet to care for can also provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which can be especially important for older adults who may be experiencing a loss of identity or purpose after retirement.
9. Strengthens immune system function
Research has shown that owning a pet can improve immune system function in older adults. This is because pets can help to reduce stress levels, which can have a positive impact on the immune system.
Also, pets can expose their owners to a variety of bacteria and other microorganisms, which can help to strengthen the immune system over time.
Although pets can provide some immune system benefits, they can also pose health risks, such as allergies or infections, so one has to take proper precautions when caring for a pet.
10. Improved cognitive function
Another interesting health benefit of pets for older adults is that it can have a positive impact on cognitive function in older adults. Studies have shown that interacting with pets can help to improve memory, focus, attention, and problem-solving skills.
This may be because pets provide a source of mental stimulation, such as through training or playing games, which can help to keep the brain active and engaged.
Furthermore, pets can provide a sense of companionship and social interaction, which can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that can have a negative impact on cognitive function.
The importance of older adults owning pets cannot be underestimated, as there are so many health benefits of pets for older adults. The goal here is to get the older adult the best pets they are comfortable with. Some people prefer dogs, while some prefer dogs. So having the right pets is essential in amassing all the awesome health benefits. Here are some of the best pets for mental health.