Benefits of Pets for Seniors

Our furry friends can improve our lives in many ways. For seniors moving into assisted living, pets can serve as both loving companions and a source of purpose. Pets encourage routine and daily activity, and they also provide many health benefits. A pet may be just what you or your loved one needs to make their days brighter.  

Learn more about how caring for a pet can benefit you or your loved one.

Find Companionship 

A best friend can come in many forms. Whether your pet has fur, feathers or scales, they can become integral to your daily life. Taking care of a pet gives you a sense of purpose and responsibility. Building a relationship with a pet can also eliminate feelings of loneliness and even combat depression. 

When you are holding a pet in your arms, you may focus less on aging or loss. Pets can help distract you from any physical problems you or a loved one may be facing. Sometimes the only companion a senior adult has is their pet. In these scenarios, pets become more than four-legged friends. They become family. 

Benefits to the Body   

Research shows that caring for a pet can be beneficial to your health. Pets can lower your cortisol levels, which are hormones that respond to stress. Reducing your cortisol levels also lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol. As the causes of lower blood pressure and cholesterol, pets may also help prevent other health problems like heart disease or stroke. 

Pets, such as dogs or cats, need more exercise and playtime. This can encourage you or your loved one to be more active during the day. By beginning a routine that involves movement, you or your loved one can maintain or improve mobility through bonding with a pet. 

Brighter Side to Life

Scratching your furry friend can have a positive impact on your mood as well. Pets have been shown to increase levels of serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin helps many systems in the body function. For example, serotonin helps regulate sleep and digestion. In the brain, serotonin helps regulate your mood and increase your sense of calmness. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone,” and it plays into your ability to bond with others. When you take care of a pet, that pet is unknowingly taking care of you by reducing your overall stress and giving you more reasons to smile. 

Find Your New Best Friend

If you are ready to get a pet, you’ll need to decide what pet is best for you and the community you live in. Assisted living communities have policies regarding things like what size and breeds of pets you can have within the community. Common pets for seniors are dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and fish. Some pets require higher maintenance and responsibility than others. Make sure you or your loved one is ready for the commitment. 

You may want to buy your pet from a breeder or find a pet to adopt. It’s recommended that seniors get older pets instead of puppies, kittens, or hatchlings, which require greater effort and care. Some of the best dog breeds for older adults include pugs, schnauzers, Pomeranians, and Boston terriers. Likewise, some of the best cats to own are the American shorthair, ragdoll, and Persian. If you are considering rabbits, popular breeds include the angora, Dutch, and checkered giant. 

Are you or your loved one considering getting a pet? 

Pets are welcome at Culpepper Place. Contact us if you would like a tour of the facility or want to talk to an administrator about bringing your pet along with you.