8 reasons every senior should have a pet

There are so many reasons to have a pet, and for seniors transitioning into senior living, the benefits can be incredibly helpful.

Pets provide emotional support, entertainment, and even physical health benefits for seniors.

There are plenty of pet-friendly senior living facilities located around the US and the world. If you’re a senior who wants to continue to live with your pet, be sure to look into these facilities to find a great fit for you — because the health benefits are just too good to give up…

Here are 8 great reasons every senior should consider having a pet.

#1 Pets prevent loneliness and depression

Pets provide a form of unconditional love and support that can be incredibly beneficial to seniors, particularly seniors who aren’t able to socialize much anymore.

That’s because the bond between a human and pet can be incredibly strong, and the companionship that animals provide can keep you from feeling lonely when living on your own.

Studies have also shown that seniors who have pets are far less likely to develop depression, which is a major risk many people suffer when they move into retirement communities or nursing homes.

Interacting with pets also releases positive chemicals in the brain that relieve stress, and when you’re not stressed, you’re less likely to get sick and develop muscle tension.

#2 Pets are funny and entertaining

Having a pet around is an easy way to keep a smile on your face. Their cute and quirky behavior can really liven up your home life. Need proof?

Research at Indiana University shows that you can quickly recharge your personal energy and warm your outlook just by watching a cat video online. Just imagine the effect in person!

Their hilarious antics can also make for great stories to tell your friends and can keep you occupied during retirement.

#3 Pets encourage exercise

Many seniors struggle to stay active but having a pet can encourage you to get out of the house and move around.

Dogs are particularly good for exercise because they need to be walked every day, but even playing with a cat, bird, or other pet can be a great form of gentle exercise.

Playing with a pet is fun and engaging, so if you struggle to fit exercise into your routine, pets can be a great way to do that.

#4 Pets encourage social interaction

Pets, dogs, in particular, are great for getting you involved in your community because you’ll need to take them out and walk them. This makes it easier to meet other people in your neighborhood and even get involved in local events in a natural way that’s not too overwhelming.

Ironically, pets can actually be a great source of bonding among humans. It’s very easy to start chatting to somebody if your pets become friends, and in many cases that makes it easy for you to become friends as well. Sharing funny stories about your pet also makes for a great topic of conversation in social situations.

#5 Pets encourage routine and purpose

Another benefit that pets provide is that they require a daily routine, and that can be incredibly helpful for seniors as they’re transitioning into retirement.

It can be very difficult to develop a fulfilling daily routine without the structure of work or caring for a family. Having a pet can give you a basic structure to make this a bit easier.

And, when you take care of a pet, you’re not only investing in your own well-being, you’re also giving an animal a great chance at a healthy life. With so many animals living in shelters, knowing you’re helping even just one can be very fulfilling. It’s especially gratifying to adopt a senior pet. Older animals are often overlooked for puppies and kittens.

#6 Pets provide a feeling of security and protection

For seniors that live alone, having a pet can provide an invaluable feeling of protection, particularly at night.

Knowing that your pet would alert you to the presence of an intruder and potentially ward them off can be very relaxing.

For seniors with special needs, like PTSD, seizure conditions, mobility or sensory issues, a service dog, can add an extra level of relief, security, and independence.

#7 Pets, especially dogs, can help you live healthier and longer

Dog owners are exposed to great bacterial diversity (which can boost your immune system), suffer fewer allergies, are more likely to survive a heart attack… and that’s just the beginning.

Did you know dogs can sniff out cancer? A dog’s nose has 300 million sensors, compared to our five million. They also have a second smelling organ in the back of their nose called Jacobson’s organ.

There are many stories of dogs who insistently nosed a mole or spot on their owner’s body, later found to be cancerous.

#8 Seniors make great pet owners

Seniors make particularly good pet owners because they can provide so much support and time for their pet. Their maturity also makes them very responsible, which is an essential quality in a pet owner.

There are plenty of pet-friendly senior living facilities located around the US and the world. If you’re a senior who wants to continue to live with your pet, be sure to look into these facilities to find a great fit for you.

Editor’s note: Have you heard about Greek grandpa Stamatis Moraitis, who returned home to die of cancer and ended up outliving his doctors? He and a large community of seniors living on the Greek island of Ikaria were the subjects of an article called, “The Island Where People Forgot to Die.” If you’d like to know what some experts believe about how they keep their vigor and live so long, click here!

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Holly Klamer

By Holly Klamer

Holly Klamer is a connector with Senior Guidance and Senior Living help that help provides comprehensive resources on various senior living options. She loves working in the ever-changing world of digital information.