How Owning a Pet Helps Older Adults Heal

By Lutgarda Mariano, 9:00 am on

Pet owners often enjoy a higher quality of life than non-pet owners. Owning or interacting with an animal also has particular benefits for older adults. The following are a few reasons your senior loved one may want to consider bringing an animal companion into his or her life.

Enhances Mood

Spending a few minutes petting a dog or cat can produce physical changes in the body. Levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, start to decrease. The body also starts to release endorphins, including dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which naturally boost mood and promote bonding and feelings of connection. Caring for a pet provides seniors a sense of purpose, and it helps them stave off depression and enjoy a high quality of life.

If you have a senior loved one who needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, an in-home care provider Victoria families can rely on. All of our caregivers are bonded, licensed, and insured, there are no hidden fees, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts.

Boosts Heart Health

Owning a pet, especially a dog or cat, can help seniors reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Pet owners tend to have lower heart rates, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels than non-pet owners. Seniors who own pets also have a higher survival rate following a heart attack. These benefits are the result of lower stress levels and increased physical activity levels among pet owners.

Provides Opportunities for Social Connections

Pet owners naturally gravitate to other pet owners to share stories. Taking a dog for a daily walk in the park provides an incentive for seniors to get out of the house and engage with others. Not only does regular social interaction help alleviate loneliness and depression, but it also stimulates the mind and maintains cognitive function.

For families living in Victoria, British Columbia, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

Promotes Bone Health

Osteoporosis and the majority of falls among older adults are caused by weak bones and muscles. Walking a dog offers weight-bearing exercise, which strengthens bones and muscles. Having a dog can also encourage your loved one to get outdoors for sunlight and vitamin D, which helps the bones absorb the calcium needed to remain strong.

Increases Independence

Pets, especially dogs, can make it possible for seniors with certain physical limitations to live on their own. Dogs can be trained to assist seniors with a wide range of tasks, from fetching items to turning on lights and closing doors. Depending on your loved one’s situation, he or she may qualify for a service dog to help manage a medical condition. For example, service dogs can assist seniors with Parkinson’s by providing balance support or a gentle nudge when the owner “freezes” while walking. 

Reduces Chronic Pain

Focusing on someone or something else can diminish the perception of pain from arthritis or other chronic conditions. The calming effect of pets, the warmth of a dog or cat’s body on achy joints, and the increased physical activity that comes with owning a pet can help your loved one manage pain.

While pet therapy has several benefits, it does not provide relief against several age-related conditions. Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Victoria, BC, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place. For high-quality senior home care services, get in touch with Home Care Assistance at (250) 592-4881 today.