Senior couple sitting back on bund

Being in a house by yourself is never ideal and can be lonely at times.  The Covid-19 pandemic brought an increased level of isolation, particularly to seniors. Many mental health issues have been on the rise from pandemic-related isolation. Roughly 45% of seniors reported being lonely and as a result, more animals were rescued from shelters than ever before.   Some shelters closed because there were no pets left to adopt.  In general, pets, like cats and dogs, make great companions, especially for seniors. For health-challenged seniors, service animals can not only help with daily activities but can also save lives.

Pets are excellent companions regardless of health. However, if you are health-challenged, a trained service dog can help seniors not only emotionally but also with activities of daily living such as grabbing the newspaper, crossing the street, etc. Having a pet can be beneficial to your health and overall well-being.  As part of caring for your pet, you are more likely to exercise such as walking your dog.

Studies have shown the positive effects owning a pet can have on your health. Seniors who own a pet are less likely to be depressed, have high blood pressure, suffer from obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.  The American Heart Association encourages owning a pet for a healthier heart.  Pet owners are 33% less likely to pass away between ages 50 and 80, have a lower BMI (body mass index), and less likely to be overweight.  Pet therapy is regularly used to help patients recover from surgery.  Loyola University did a study on seniors and pet therapy and they conclude that the seniors who used pet therapy recovered quicker and needed less pain medication than those who did not. If you or a loved one are suffering from anxiety, dementia, Alzheimer’s, loneliness, or depression, an emotional support animal can be helpful in coping with these mental health issues.

Pets provide a great deal of emotional support.  Seniors that suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s have shown less agitation when they have emotional support pets.  Emotional support pets can also help seniors feel comfortable socializing again.  If you don’t have the capabilities to keep and care for a pet, there are places you can go to spend one on one time with a friendly animal.  You can visit or volunteer at a local animal shelter, plus you will enjoy the emotional benefit of working with less fortunate animals.

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