You have heard about various studies that have been conducted in the past 20 or so years in relation to health benefits of elderly people who own, or have consistent interaction with pets. The more time that has been invested in this research has only supported evidence of health benefits of owning a pet for the elderly. So, why does owning a pet increase the health in today’s golden population? It caters to two human primary needs: health needs and emotional needs. Pets, usually cats or dogs, but really any pet, provide both health and emotional care for people.
First, let us look at the physical benefits of owning a pet. Repeatedly, studies have shown that when a person owns a pet, their physical activity is increased. Because they need to care for a pet, such as walking a dog, cleaning out the cat’s litter box, laying fresh newspaper lining on the inside of the bird cage, they are forced to get up and do more. Especially if an elderly person owns a dog, they may take them for walks. This gets a person outside in the fresh air to receive some low impact, mild exercise. Studies have also shown that a person who owns a pet is able to walk for a longer time period than a mature person without a pet.
Studies have also shown that keeping a pet aids the owner’s blood pressure and over-all cardiac health. When a person pats a dog or strokes a cat on their lap, the physical contact relieves and reduces stress levels in the human body. Also, taking care of a pet has shown that people who own pets tend to live longer lives than those who don’t. Taking care of a pet may give a lonely elderly person the sense of purpose to their life that is essential to good physical and emotional health. Filling the role of the caretaker helps people lose focus on their minor health issues, and instead they focus on their pet.
The next benefit to elderly people that own pets is their emotional needs. Pets provide companionship and friendship that may be difficult to find in other humans. Pets are loyal, loving, affectionate, helpful, and non-negotiating. Some people really enjoy that they don’t need to engage in social niceties with their pets; they can just get along and spend companionable time together. Some studies have shown that a large percentage of people who own pets say that their dog, cat, or bird are their best friend. That speaks a lot about the health and emotional benefits of these loving animals.
Pets also help people interact with other human beings, such as neighbors or people in the community. When a person is involved in their community, and interacts socially with humans on a regular basis, their lifespan is supposedly increased. There have been links that tie owning pets to increased interaction in the community, though scientists are not quite sure of the link yet.
Pets are loving, affectionate companions. They help people of all ages emotionally and physically; however, those in the elderly community seem to reap the most benefits of owning a pet. It also keeps them active and happy, living by the side of their best friend.