A fuzzy, fun loving dog. A snuggly, purring cat. Colorful fish in a tank. No matter what kind of pet your aging relative has, this is the month to celebrate them. April is National Pet Month, a time to reflect on how good it is to have a pet. You might be aware that your family member’s pet makes them happy, but did you know there are many more benefits to owning a pet than just happiness?
Below are just a few of the benefits of your senior relative sharing their home with a pet.
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
Studies have shown that pets are even better at reducing stress than having another family member around. This may be especially true for seniors who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Research indicates that people with dementia who have a pet in their home have less instances of outbursts caused by anxiety. Not only do pets help the senior with dementia, but their caregivers also report feeling less stressed.
Exercise and Social Interaction
Taking a dog for a walk is a great way for an older adult to remain physically active. Needing to walk a dog gives them a reason to walk, making it more likely that they will continue to be active. The dog provides companionship during the walk. Also, walking with a dog increases the chances the older adult will interact with other people since they may ask to pet the dog.
Better Cardiovascular Health
People with cats are 30 percent lower chance of having a heart attack and a 40 percent less chance of having a stroke. Having a dog can help a person to recover from a heart attack and makes them much more likely to still be alive in a year. Also, pet owners have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people who don’t own a pet.
Less Chronic Pain
Pets are a great way for people who suffer from migraines or arthritis to reduce the amount of pain they experience. One of the ways they reduce pain is by lowering anxiety levels, which results in less pain. Studies have even shown that people who receive pet therapy after a surgery use less pain medication.
Having a pet is a great joy, but it also comes with many responsibilities. Senior care can assist older adults to care for their pets. A senior care provider can feed and water the pet. Senior care providers can also go for walks with seniors and their dogs so that both can get some exercise. When it is time for the pet to see a veterinarian, a senior care provider can drive them both to the appointment.