For some seniors growing older can be a very lonely proposition. Aging adults that suffer from chronic loneliness typically get severely depressed and don’t eat right- which then places their health, wellbeing and independence at risk. On the other hand, numerous studies have found that pet ownership is an effective way to combat depression and loneliness in the elderly. If there’s an aging loved one in your life who’s feeling a little down, a new pet might just be the morale-booster they need.
Why Do Some Seniors Get Lonely?
Seniors that are active and socially engaged tend to enjoy happier, healthier and longer lives than those who aren’t.
Sadly, these are some reasons why seniors don’t socialize enough:
- Loss of a spouse or other close family member
- Embarrassment due to incontinence or a chronic medical condition
- Lack of reliable transportation
- Financial hardship
- Adult children or grandchildren move away
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced far too many seniors to be socially isolated. For those already experiencing loneliness and depression, sheltering in place for long periods of time only makes a bad situation even worse.
How Pets Benefit Older Adults
Based on available evidence these are some of the ways that pets benefit older adults:
Heart health. According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, seniors who own pets (especially dogs) are at reduced risk for cardiovascular disease due to the extra activity pet ownership brings them.
Mental acuity. Scientists have found that pet ownership elevates a senior’s mood, which helps them overcome both dementia and depression.
Exercise. Seniors that own a dog are also more likely to exercise, which benefits their bodies in so many ways.
Socialization. Older pet owners tend to be more social, are more likely to meet new friends and to leave the house more often than those who don’t have a pet.
Security. Pets provide a sense of both physical and mental security for seniors, especially for those living alone.
Quality of life. Peer-reviewed medical journals have reported that seniors who own pets require fewer annual doctor visits and tend to stay healthier than those who don’t.
Longer life span. Although this is still being debated in the medical community, there is some evidence to support the fact that older pet owners even live longer than non-pet owners!
Limitations for Elderly Pet Owners
Obviously, if your 85-year-old father is bedbound you don’t want to buy him a 150-pound Rottweiler. Here are some limitations to consider when choosing the right pet for your loved one:
- Home environment
Best Pets for Seniors
When trying to find your loved one a new companion look for one that best matches their health and lifestyle. In general, these are some of the most low-maintenance pets for aging adults:
- Cats (great for someone with limited mobility)
- Specific dog breeds like Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers and pugs
- Fish (avoid betas and goldfish)
- Birds like parrots or parakeets
- Reptiles like lizards and geckos (not snakes)
Where to Find a Good Pet
Many local animal shelters have pets that are just waiting to be adopted. Other good resources for finding your aging loved one a pet include the Pets for the Elderly Program, municipal animal rescue shelter and companion animal adoption events- like National Clear the Shelters Day.
Reliable In-Home Companionship Care for Seniors
If your aging in place loved one needs cheering up another option is contacting New Wave Home Care. Once you do, one of our friendly caregivers will step in and provide your senior with the companionship and nurturing they truly deserve. As a fully licensed home care provider our unique approach is all about compassion and connection, delivered with a personal touch so that all our clients can experience a degree of joy. While serving as an extended family in the home our professionals go above-and-beyond in their dedication to providing care for others, while making a difference in those we serve.
In addition to companionship care, we support clients and their families with personalized in-home care solutions like transitional care, personal care, specialized care, respite care, medication reminders, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, hospice support and more. At New Wave Home Care, it’s not just about caregiving. It’s about heart! To learn more now about our flexible hours and affordable rates, or to set up a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in the greater Los Angeles area, please visit us at: www.newwavehomecare.com.