The relationship an individual has with a pet is a special one, whether the animals is a fish, turtle, dog or any other type of companion. Unfortunately it is tough for many seniors to care for a pet, but that does not mean they have to give up all interaction with these beloved animals. Many hospitals and health care facilities are providing opportunities for patients to form relationships with four-legged friends, and it could be beneficial to personal health.
Connecting seniors with pets
Since theories about the benefits of spending time with animals began sprouting in the 1960s, researchers have been interested in the subject. However, the University of Adelaide found that there is a limited number of scientific studies delving into this topic. Still, the report agreed that the benefits of exposure to animals are likely there - they just need to be harnessed correctly. This could be with visits from third-party organizations or even having loved ones bring a family pet by for a few minutes of fun, depending on the patient.
Even seniors living at home can take advantage of the many benefits that pets bring. Programs that help pet owners care for their companions are available, and many of these allow individuals to keep their pets even throughout injuries, medical treatments or standard aging.
Animals can provide health benefits
Providing patients with exposure to animals may be good for a variety of ailments. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that caring for a dog or cat may help seniors overcome depression and maintain good mental health. These animals may also help lower blood pressure and encourage healthy movements, as dogs need to be walked or at least let outside.
Caring for animals also inspires a number of other health benefits. Pet Partners noted that seniors with dogs make fewer visits to the doctor, as the pets may lower stress and act as a therapeutic outlet for anxiety that would otherwise aggravate health. Walking dogs is a great way to get out in the community as well. Seniors can easily strike up conversations with other pet owners or receive friendly responses from others with the help of a pet. While these advantages may not seem like much, they can make a big difference in the mindset of older individuals.