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Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Whether you are a dog person or a cat person, a bird, reptile or rodent lover, one thing is certain: WE LOVE OUR PETS. Ask any pet owner and most of them will tell you they consider their pet to be part of their family. In the United States, over $70 billion was spent in the pet industry in 2018. That's right, 'b' for BILLION! That includes all the food, vet care, medications, supplies and cute little sweaters we buy for our furry friends.

It's clear that pets are a very important part of our lives. They rely on us to provide for their needs, and in return provide us with numerous health benefits, both emotionally and physically. One of the greatest advantages to having a pet is the companionship they provide. For seniors, this companionship can be an extremely positive and important part of their life.

Health Benefits of Having a Pet

More Exercise! Just like us, dogs need exercise and movement to stay healthy and trim. They also enjoy getting out into the neighborhood or the local dog park to socialize with others. Having a pet can motivate an older person to take a daily walk or perhaps a visit to the park. Studies have shown that people who are walking dogs are in better physical condition than those who walk alone or with other people.

Lower Cholesterol. According to researchers at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, daily walks will actually lower a person's cholesterol.

Combat Loneliness. Many seniors become lonely and depressed when they lose beloved spouses or life-long friends. A pet provides that companionship and gives them another living being to bond with. It also gives them a sense of purpose. Their pet relies on them for food and shelter, and the tasks of taking care of an animal provide them with daily responsibilities outside of themselves.

Relieve Depression. The world of pet therapy is growing more each year as animals are able to help a broader spectrum of disorders. Animals give people something positive to focus on instead of negative thoughts. The social bond between a pet and its owner is powerful enough to promote therapeutic and psychological wellbeing. Pets can lower stress and boost self-esteem.

Unconditional Love. Pets are non-judgmental. They don't care what your hair looks like or if your socks are mismatched. They just love you and are always happy to see you. This no-strings-attached acceptance can make a huge difference in a person's mental health.

Lower Stress. Just looking at a beloved pet can produce a calming effect on humans. A powerful neurochemical is released when we are near our animals that decrease cortisol levels. Less stress is important for people of any age!

Ease Chronic Pain. You have heard about a runner's high – the release of endorphins that are powerful pain relievers. Spending time with your pet releases these same endorphins, which can distract from chronic pain. Many elderly people have chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions that a pet can help alleviate.

Animal Activities

Many senior living communities sponsor activities that bring animals to their residents so they can experience the happiness and joy an animal brings. Pet therapy is another popular activity that connects senior citizens to animals of all shapes and sizes. While we most often think of dogs, there are plenty of animal programs that use llamas, hedgehogs, goat and other critters to bring a smile to the face of a senior.

If you or a loved one are making the move to a senior living community and want to bring your pet with you, ask the management team about their pet policy. Many senior communities allow certain animals. If moving with your beloved pet is important to you, make sure you understand the pet policies and rules of the community where you are moving.

Learn more about Evergreen Senior Living and the services they provide by visiting our website.

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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

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