Pets can be incredibly beneficial for mental health. They provide companionship and unconditional love and can be a source of comfort and relaxation. When your loved one interacts with pets, their body may create more serotonin and dopamine, the happy chemicals in a senior’s body. This may prevent stress and anxiety from the building by lowering cortisol levels throughout the body. Having and caring for a pet also gives a senior a feeling of responsibility and purpose, but there are many more reasons why your loved one should consider pets while aging in place, especially if they have no partners or even if most of their friends are gone.
However, the first thing you need to do is evaluate how independent your senior loved one is. They may have home care assistance around the house, but it will only be fair to the senior or the animal if they can care for it mostly by themselves. On the other hand, if a senior is mostly independent and only relies on home care assistance for grocery shopping or transportation, a pet may be an excellent step for them while living at home for the rest of their lives. Here are all the reasons pets can be a great addition to a senior’s life.
Pets Are Physical
When your loved one gets older, chances are they have lost their partners, friends, and even some family members they were close to. This means they may not get the physical touch from the close companions they once had. Luckily, pets can fill this void. Pets often like to snuggle and show affection through touch, which can be mentally healthy for your elderly loved one. So if your senior needs a small furry touch, a pet can benefit them and is something you should consider bringing up with your senior.
Pets Can Reduce Stress
Your senior may love their new pet so much that just by looking at their beloved little friend, happy chemicals can spread throughout their bodies. This can lead to lower stress levels and even lower anxiety levels. Pets may also help get your senior out of the house more and into the sunshine, improving their overall physical health, including stress levels. This is the ultimate way to lower stress.
Pets Increase the Feelings of Gratitude
Owning a pet can help a senior see everything they have in life and learn to be grateful for it. Pets are naturally grateful for everything they have, but as humans, you’re not. This can teach your seniors to feel grateful for what they have and stop longing for something more. Pets also help them stay present in the morning.
Pets Help Your Senior to Stick to a Routine
All seniors should have some routine they stick to. And guess what? Most pets have a routine too! For example, many dogs and cats eat around the same time, go potty at the same time, and even nap at the same time throughout the day. Your senior and new pet can create a routine that works well with each other, giving your loved one something to look forward to throughout the day.