Are you considering getting a pet for senior citizens in your life?

A Pet for a Senior will certainly enhance their lives, but did you know that they can also improve their overall health.

If you are thinking that a furry friend or a pet for senior citizens is a good idea, the doctor would probably agree with you. When children are young, families often introduce a pet into their homes. It helps teach children about responsibility, compassion-ship and of course love. But when our loved ones grow older, a pet for senior citizens can help bring joy, love and companionship back into their lives.

A furry friend can not only can be the best of companions, but they provide a comfort system that can often rekindle an aging person’s passion for life. A pet for senior owners can give your loved one a purpose. The fact that they are now responsible for the feeding and caring of a pet,gives them a new purpose. It makes them feel extremely useful, which is a common complaint among aging American’s who no longer work or look after others.

According to a study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).18 percent of seniors live alone, while 43 percent report feeling lonely on a regular basis. A furry pet for senior citizens can alleviate their feelings of isolation.

Dogs, both big and small,  provide wonderful social benefits.  Since dogs needs to go for walks, and it is the perfect excuse to get their owners outside and active. Besides the exercise, which is an added bonus, the fresh air, social interaction and engagement with other people gives many Seniors with pets, a feeling of purpose. It can also reduce depression, which often stems from the feelings of loneliness.

A cat might be a better option if mobility is an issue. Even sitting on a couch, petting an animal can lower stress levels and boost a person’s mood. The best part is how personable animals can be. They mirror your feelings.  When you are happy, they are happy. When you get excited they get excited. And when you are feeling blue, they are always there to let you know you are loved.

A study from “Pets Are Wonderful Support” found, “recently widowed women who owned pets, experienced significantly fewer symptoms of physical and psychological disease. It has also been reported to lower medication use among widows who  own pets.”

It’s easy to see how the love of a pet for senior citizens can provide love and companionship. By increasing their happiness and comfort level, it also enhances their mental health by producing a chemical reaction in the brain. This helps to lower levels of the stress-inducing hormone, cortisol, and increase the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.

Pets for Seniors, also have a positive impact on Physical Health

But a pet for senior citizens can become more than a companion animal, by contributing to the physical health of their owners. These furry friends can reduce both blood pressure and stress levels, thereby lowering their owner’s cholesterol and triglycerides, helping to protect against heart conditions.

One study by found that if a pet for senior citizens, also contribute to a higher survival rate from patients who suffered from a heart attack. The mortality rate among seniors with pets was one-third that of patients without animal companionship. According to this study, “approximately one million people die of heart disease each year. Animals can help save over 33,000 people from dying of heart disease.”

Furthermore, in a study of 100 Medicare patients, it showed that the owners of a pet for seniors, visited their doctors 21% less often than those who don’t own pets. In addition, they use less medication and a pet for seniors can help their owner recover faster from surgery and illness.

Thankfully, more and more Senior Care Centers and Senior Residents have begun to understand the benefits of a companion pet,  and allow pets for senior’s into their facilities. Because of the overwhelming positive research on the benefits a pet for senior’s have, many rehabilitation and hospitals allow service dogs in to visit. The other added bonus is the the huge smile they bring to everyone’s face.

It is clear that a furry friend can be incredibly beneficial and help provide the much needed contact we all need, at any stage of life. But the emotional and physical benefits of a senior owning a pet, sounds to me like it is exactly what the doctor ordered.