An endless supply of wet kisses, a wagging tail to greet you at the door, a soft fur friend to snuggle with on the couch—these are just a few of the many benefits of owning a pet. But being a fur parent is more than just companionship and love. It also comes with some health benefits, especially for seniors.
How Pets Balance the Health Triangle
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being—and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This definition is often represented by a triangle with three sides: physical, mental/emotional, and social. When one side of the triangle is out of balance, it can have a negative impact on the other two sides. Pets can help seniors stay balanced by providing physical activity, social interaction, and emotional support.
Here’s a closer look at each side of the health triangle and how pets can help:
Pets need exercise, which means their owners do too. Walking a dog or playing with a cat gets seniors up and moving, which is essential for maintaining strength, balance, and mobility.
Improve your Heart Health
According to studies, owning a dog can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. They also found that people who owned dogs were more likely to get more exercise, which is essential for maintaining a healthy heart.
Get Some Exercise
When it comes to motivation, nothing is quite as effective as a furry friend waiting by the door with a leash in its mouth. Pets need exercise, which means their owners can get a fair share of it too.
Walking a dog or playing with a cat gets seniors up and moving. Regular movement helps in maintaining strength, balance, and mobility.
Pets can give seniors a sense of purpose and routine, which can help combat depression and anxiety.
Add Structure to Your Day
Fido and Fifi need to be fed, walked, and played with—and as their primary caregiver, that responsibility falls on you. Having a pet can help add structure to your day and give you a reason to get up and move. After all, sometimes, it takes a little nudge from our furry friends to help us stay on track.
Combat Anxiety and Depression
Studies have shown that even a brief interaction with a pet can help boost serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, which can have a calming effect. For seniors suffering from anxiety or depression, owning a pet can provide much-needed relief.
Pets can help seniors meet new people and stay connected to their community.
Make new friends
A social network is not always easy to come by, but owning a pet can help. Pets are great conversation starters and can help you meet new people in your neighborhood, at the park, or even at the vet.
Provide social interaction
Even if you’re not looking to make new friends, Felix and Fido can provide the social interaction you need. They’re always happy to see you and offer a listening ear (or paw) when needed.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, nothing beats the companionship of a loyal furry friend. Pets can provide seniors with the physical, mental, and social benefits they need to stay healthy and happy. So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your health, why not adopt a pet?
Whether you prefer the eager companionship of a dog, the independent spirit of a cat, or the playful nature of a small animal, there’s a pet out there that’s perfect for you. So do your research, check with your doctor, and find the perfect furry friend to help you stay healthy and happy.