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Why Having Pets is Beneficial to Your Health

Does your elderly parent have a pet? If he or she is struggling with health issues or depression, a furry companion might be a good idea. Research shows that owning a pet is beneficial to both physical and mental health, in a number of ways.

Physically speaking, interacting with friendly animals can lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and release endorphins that make people feel happier and calmer. Having a pet has even been shown to diminish physical pain. Mental health benefits derived from animal interaction can include lessening of depression, decreased feelings of alienation and isolation, reduced boredom and anxiety, and motivation to recover from trauma faster.

Pets provide benefits to people of all ages but can be particularly beneficial to the aging. They’re wonderful companions who help stave off loneliness and depression, and they give an older person a responsibility that keeps them motivated. Older people with pets typically take fewer medications, visit the doctor less frequently, and have lower stress levels than those without pets.

Senior woman in the park on an autumns day

Of course, it’s important to choose the right pet for the right owner. An elderly person might not have the energy to keep up with a very active dog breed, and shouldn’t commit to an animal with a very long lifespan, like a parrot. People who are set in their ways may not enjoy the disruption pets bring to their lives, and those with disabilities may benefit from a low maintenance pet, like a cat. Then, too, there’s the personality of both that animal and the person to consider, and things like cost should definitely be factored into the decision making process. If a pet seems like a good fit, though, it may be a great investment because of all the ways it can improve a person’s life.

As our parents age, it can be daunting to help them make the kinds of choices that will help them thrive and lead a life of health and good spirits. If you need someone to step in and help you help your loved ones, Elder Care Connections has the resources to assist you. We’re a boutique-style agency, committed to helping people find the right care for their loved ones. We pride ourselves on helping you find a caregiver who is not only capable but also compatible with your loved one’s personality. Contact us for an in-home evaluation, or call (914) 368-2075 to learn about all we have to offer.

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