Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Benefits of Having Pets for the Elderly

Most people of all ages love having animals and pets around, but for elderly people there are some distinct benefits to looking after animals that can help them in later life.  I want to hang onto my parents for as long as possible so I am glad they have my dog, even if we only get her back if they are off on a day trip!


Here’s way having pets can really be a massive benefit to people as they get older…

Companionship

Possibly the most obvious benefit of looking after a pet is companionship. Elderly people often find themselves on their own, perhaps due to the death of a partner, and can therefore become very lonely. Having a pet can provide the perfect source of companionship, particularly with an animal such as a dog which thrives on human attention. Having a pet during your retirement living can increase quality of life dramatically, and can even help with depression blood pressure and hypertension.

Exercise 

It’s no secret that it’s important to try and keep active as you get older, and having a pet is a great way to do this. Obviously taking a dog for a walk is fantastic exercise and doing that once a day will have really positive health benefits. However, if you’re less mobile and taking a dog for a walk isn’t really possible, even just getting up to feed the pet is better than sitting down all day and not moving at all.



Mental stimulation

It’s not just important to keep physically active; it’s also vital to keep mentally active and this can also be achieved through having a pet. By looking after an animal you will constantly have to think about looking after it, keeping track of when it needs food, water and exercise and even just talking to it can provide excellent mental stimulation.

Help around the house

Dogs can actually help around the house to a certain extent. Obviously they won’t do the dishes or cook the dinner, but they can help pick things up or fetch things for you if you’re less mobile. Guide dogs can also obviously help those who are blind or visually impaired.

They can help you get out of the house

Too many elderly people spend too much of their time indoors and don’t get outside enough, but having an animal, particularly a dog, will encourage you to get out more and get some fresh air, which again is great exercise and mental stimulation.

It can make you more social

Some elderly people struggle to meet and talk to others but having a pet can improve that. If you take your pet for a walk then you may well meet other people doing the same, and you may well end up seeing them most days and developing a friendship. There are also numerous animal groups you can join, either on the internet or ‘in real life’ where you can meet with people or chat online to them about caring for your pets.

If looking after an animal is something you feel would benefit you or a loved one, the RSPCA has more information about finding a pet.

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