Movies and television shows have always shown us shining examples of pets and the wonder, joy and love they can bring to your life and the life of your family. The love for an animal and of an animal is one of the most special relationships we can experience, but did you know that having a pet can actually have a positive effect on your health? The American Heart Association put out a study in 2013 that found people who were pet owners had reduced cases of heart disease and were more likely to live longer lives.
The Benefits Of Having a Pet To Your Health And Life
There are so many great reasons to own a pet, ones that can affect your health for the better. Some of the health benefit are:
- Less feelings of loneliness, eases depression
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Lower blood pressure and lower resting heart rate
- Less likely to suffer from cardiac diseases
- Walking your dog is great exercise, it is weight bearing and gets you outdoors and lets you receive some vitamin D from the sun
- More opportunities to meet and socialize with friends and other pet owners
- The stress hormone cortisol goes down
- Better mood, happier
- Serotonin ( a chemical in your body that makes you feel good) goes up
- Children that grow up with a dog or a cat are less likely to develop allergies
- Some dogs can sense a drop in glucose of their owners and alert them, very important for those that have diabetes
- Pets are great companions for kids coping with ADHD and Autism
- Pets bring unconditional love and joy to your life
- Some pet owners past age 65 have 30% less visits to the doctor than those without pets
- Having a pet you love fulfills the human need for touch
- Pets function best on a routine with structure and it helps you stick to a routine
- Service dogs have always been of help to those with certain medical conditions and pet owners can testify to the help and healing power of a pet companion
Seniors And Pets
It’s no secret that seniors can live a lonely, isolated lifestyle. With children and grandchildren living in different states or countries, friends with health conditions or caregiving responsibilities or the loss of a spouse can bring solitude and loneliness to many seniors. Pets can bring joy, happiness, love and companionship to those who find themselves in need of company at this stage in their lives.
Pets have also brought much needed help to seniors suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s patients that participated in a study at the University of California were given either a dog or cat and the study found that:
- The touch and interactions of a pet with the patients saw a positive kind of non-verbal communication and less aggressive behavior
- These patients exhibited less stress, anxiety and fewer outburst than patients without a pet
- The pets were able to ease the stress of the caregiver to the patient, and since a lot of patient reaction comes from the stress responses of the caregiver, both were more at ease and happier
The life changing power of a pet to a senior is undeniable. Many seniors find themselves on a fixed income, wanting a pet but not necessarily able to afford to take care of one. There are several excellent non-profit organizations that seek to help seniors find a pet and help them with the means to take care of them. If this applies to you or a loved one, check out these great organizations:
- PAWS Seniors for Seniors
- 425-787-2500, ext. 850
- Pets for the Elderly Foundation
- Seniors for Pets
Pets Are Family
There is no question the love that is found in the pet and owner relationship, it is truly a bond that makes the animal a member of the family. I have seen countless examples of animals changing the lives and demeanor of people of all ages. Our need as humans to love and be loved, care for and be cared for, and be close to a loved one is exemplified in the bond formed with our pets. If you are questioning whether or not to adopt a pet into your life, the benefits seem to be important, rewarding and helpful to your life and health. Take the risk and love them well!
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