Having a pet is one of the healthiest investments you can make to your long-term health and happiness. We know that having a pet enrichs our lives, and scientific studies in the last decade, have clearly shown how companion animals benefit both our bodies and our minds. Apart from lazy days in the sun, walking, fetching, and guaranteed smiles throughout the day, pets provide health benefits that extend far into the body and mind, such as lower blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety level as well as providing pet owners with both consistent behavior and offering unconditional love and affection. Pets in return, respond well to stability and the love and affection pet owners lavish upon them.
Pets have been known to improve the lives of pet owners, significantly benefiting health, not only for the young and families, but also for the elderly. Pets may help elderly owners live longer, healthier and ultimately, more enjoyable lives. The Journal of the American Geriartics Society published an article in May 1999 showing how independently living seniors with pets, tend to have better physical strength and overall mental health and wellbeing than seniors that do not have pets. They are more active, generally happier, cope better with stress, and have significantly lower blood pressure.
It would seem that taking care of a pet would be a lot of work. In fact, it is that work, that maintenance – walking, feeding, grooming, fresh water, playing and petting, that lowers the heart rate, decreases anxiety and stress levels, increases serotonin and the release of beta-endorphins in pet owners. Even just getting up to open the door for a dog to be let in or out, or changing the water for the kitty, require some cardiovascular exercise, and increase joint flexibility and keep joints limber and agile. Consistent minor exercise like this, ensures healthier bodies for pet owners.
Many of the benefits of having a pet are less tangible. Pets allow for physical contact and offer consistent companionship, as well as unconditional love. They act as a support system for older people without homes or families or close friends. People with pets generally remain more stable emotionally during crises than people without pets. Pets also offer protection socially from isolation, separation anxiety for people in nursing homes, and for people whodon’t have as much opportunity to interact with other people.
Pets help elders perform daily functions and stick to regular routines such as getting up every day, buying groceries and going outside of their homes – all necessary physical, emotional, and social activities, that help elderly people active, motivated to eat and sleep, and comfortable in their environments and with themselves. Through these interactions, pets enable elders to interact with others more frequently, which lowers depression and anxiety, both frequent medical problems facing elders today.