Let’s admit it: getting older can often be very lonely. While regularly participating in activities for seniors can be a way to combat isolation, anxiety and depression, one of the best sources of comfort and companionship is owning a pet. While any pet owner can agree with the many advantages of living with a four-legged or two-legged friend, research has confirmed the many health benefits.
If you’re thinking about buying a pet to keep you company, you should know that it could be one of the best decisions you make in your life. Read on to find out about the many benefits that having a pet can bring you.
Physical benefits of pets for seniors
- Pets encourage healthy behaviour: Caring for a pet helps to develop a routine. When pets need to be fed, owners usually will make a meal for themselves too.
- Pets help you move: For dog owners in particular, going for regular walks in the neighbourhood allows opportunities to get outside and breathe in fresh air. Even stationary pets like fish and birds require feeding and grooming (in some cases), which helps seniors stay mobile.
- Pets help heart health: Interaction with your pet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. This means a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Social and emotional benefits of pets for seniors citizens
- Pets can improve communication: While they can’t talk the way we do, they definitely communicate in other ways. For sufferers of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, pets can provide an opportunity for non-verbal communication.
- Pets can improve mood: There’s a lot of things that can result in feeling less connected with the community. Having a companion close to you can help you feel inspired and more enthusiastic about life, giving a sense of purpose.
- Pets help with self-esteem: Old age, appearance, or limited abilities can sometimes be difficult for a senior to face. A pet that gives unconditional love can remind seniors that they are capable of being loved.
Best pets for loneliness
While cats and dogs are an obvious choice, if you’re a senior, you may wish for something that requires a lot less maintenance. Some of the best companion animals to combat loneliness and depression include:
- Fish: A popular choice for many reasons, fish can be incredibly peaceful and soothing to watch. Our recommendations include White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Tetras, Guppies, and of course the Common Goldfish. As far as low-maintenance pets go, they’re one of the easiest and best to take care of.
- Birds: Some bird species, such as canaries, budgies (parakeets), and zebra finches are ideal due to their size. Budgies come in many different shades, so they are a delight to look at, with an adorable chirp to match their friendly demeanour.
- Guinea pigs: Notoriously social, guinea pigs will usually form a bond with at least one person. They are calm and enjoy relaxing, and take up minimal space due to their size.
- Reptiles: While it might not be the first pet that springs to mind, reptiles are good pets for those who prefer low-maintenance animals. Notable reptile species include bearded dragons and leopard geckos.
Before choosing an animal, it is important to consider the specific needs and temperament of the pet before making a life-changing decision. Taking the time to research can ultimately help you determine the best pet for your circumstances.
Can’t commit? There’s always pet therapy
We understand that taking care of a pet is a long-term commitment – and while the intention is there, sometimes it’s difficult to devote a large portion of your time to care for another living creature. If this sounds like you, but you’d love the opportunity to have a companion, you could try pet therapy.
There are many benefits of pet therapy for seniors, such as:
- Reductions in fatigue, depression, and stress
- Increased social interaction
- Renewed enthusiasm and interest in everyday life
- Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
- Decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels
Centennial Living and pets: better together
If you have a companion animal and can’t imagine parting with them, you may be relieved to know that at Centennial Living, we offer pet-friendly accommodation. That means you can continue to live with your canine, feline, scaly or feathered companion in our state-of-the-art retirement communities.