Seniors Owning Pets: Physical and Emotional Benefits

woman hugging cat
December 4th, 2013

Are you a senior considering getting a pet? If so, you are likely on the road to better health, as there are many benefits to seniors owning pets.

Some of these benefits are more obvious than others. Seniors owning pets have a constant companion and are therefore less likely to experience loneliness. Snuggling with a pet is a wonderful way to pass the time. Pet owners also engage in more physical activity, which is known to promote good health. Whether it’s dog-walking or simply the movement that comes with feeding, grooming, and caring for your pet, a pet will help keep you active.

Speaking of dog-walking, you will likely experience the added plus of social interaction while you’re out exercising with your animal friend. Who doesn’t love to stop and pet an animal? And there are plenty of other opportunities for social interaction for seniors owning pets — you could take a knitting class to make a sweater for your furry friend or join a bird-watching group, for example.

Aside from these apparent benefits to seniors owning pets, there are other, more subtle, advantages. The NIH notes that pets can improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Perhaps some of the greatest benefits to seniors owning pets are the ones that are most difficult to see. Pets need your daily attention, and by focusing on them you may naturally feel more productive and happy. Caring for a pet can make you feel needed and give you a sense of purpose. Additionally, owning a pet will encourage you to live in the moment. Dogs, cats, birds — they all live in the here and now. This experience of mindfulness has been shown to combat stress and promote peaceful feelings.

If you do decide to own a pet, one important thing to consider is having a plan for someone to take care of your pet if you travel or become sick. That way you can be assured that your pet will always be taken care of and loved.

As you can see, there are many positives to seniors owning pets. But perhaps the most rewarding benefit is the simplest one: You and your pet will love each other unconditionally. What could be better than that?