The first week in May is Be Kind to Animals Week and in celebration of that, we thought we’d share some information about the benefits of having a pet.
Pets are not only a cute cuddly companion for seniors but have also been known to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction and physical activity. Pets do something else too: “Dogs and cats live very much in the present,” says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey-based psychotherapist. “They don’t worry about tomorrow, which can be a very scary concept for an older person. An animal embodies that sense of here and now, and it tends to rub off on people.”
Pets can also have an amazing effect on symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness. “Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pets’ companionship,” says Linda Anderson, who founded the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis with her husband, Allen, to spread awareness of the benefits of pet ownership.
Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld, who often brings her own golden retriever mix, to her New York City office, has even witnessed animals’ ability to prompt better memory recall in their elderly owners. “I’ve seen those with memory loss interact with an animal and regain access to memories from long ago,” she explains. “Having a pet helps seniors focus on something other than their physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.”
Animals benefit from adoption, too, particularly when seniors adopt older pets. “These lucky animals go from the pound to paradise. Retired adopters tend to have lots of time to devote to a previously unwanted pet, forming a lasting bond,” says Chicago veterinarian Dr. Tony Kremer, who operates Help Save Pets, a nonprofit rescue organization, with his wife Meg.
Thinking about getting a pet for yourself or for a senior loved one? A while back we wrote a blog about choosing the right pet for a senior loved one. Before you adopt a new pet check out our blog for some important tips: https://www.canes.on.ca/blog/choosing-pets-seniors
Where to find a pet?
The Humane Society is usually much less expensive than breeders and comes with the added benefits of giving an unwanted animal a home and possibly saving it from euthanasia. You might even get reduced adoption fees for older pets and adopters age over 60.
COVID-19 NOTE: Check online to see what pets are available and the procedure being used right now. Your pet getting plans may need to be put on hold for a few weeks. But we’re sure it’ll be worth the wait.