So many seniors in this world live alone, with an only occasional visit from kids, relatives and neighbors. And since humans are notoriously social animals, these brief encounters are not enough to alleviate loneliness or help with depression. However, there’s something that can help with this global issue—pets! Animal companions can do wonders for all seniors who experience loneliness, stress caused by old age and various negative feelings and fears connected to helplessness and death. So how can house pets do that?
Pets provide companionship
People who have lost their partners or stayed without their families can feel overwhelming sadness and loneliness. This is something that often happens to seniors because they start losing their loved ones to old age and experiencing their families moving away. If the person is still healthy to live on their own, there’s no need to put them in a senior center where they will get human contact every day. A better way to help with their loneliness than taking them away from their home is to add a new member to the household.
Pets like cats and dogs love to cuddle and be close to humans, which will give your senior plenty of opportunity to achieve contact and grow the bond. Animals also offer unconditional love and they don’t care what their owner looks like, how old are they or how sick they are getting—they only recognize love and care.
Pets give you purpose
Many seniors who suffer from depression and loneliness feel utterly useless to the world around them. Once you retire and start losing your strength and mobility, it seems like the world doesn’t need you anymore. However, your pet needs you more than anything else. For your pet, you provide food, water, love, comfort and play. You will get a new purpose in life—to care for your beloved animal companion. Pets can be quite needy and they don’t understand that you might not feel too happy to go for a walk.
Pets also need regular vet visits which can be quite interesting in certain places like Australia. Australian vets are always ready to offer all sorts of support for both pets and owners. So taking your pet for a checkup with their vet in Rhodes can be a true adventure for everyone involved. Your purpose is to provide your pet with love and care, which means you have to take good care of yourself, be responsible and stay here for a long, long time.
Pets push you to go out and socialize
Did you know that seniors with pets are more likely to reach a recommended exercise amount during the day? Thanks to physical activity, they can have better blood pressure, and less stress and be flooded with feel-good hormones that help with depression. Also, they enjoy better mobility, stronger muscles and less pain in joints. People with arthritis might greatly benefit from petting a soft animal. But the greatest benefit of having a pet is the social factor. Dogs require daily walks and plenty of play, which means you have to go out to the local park. There, you can meet all sorts of friendly people and pets, practice your social skills and forget about loneliness.
Pets help with stress
Spending time with pets in play or cuddling can release the hormone endorphin which calms the human mind and relieves stress. This is crucial for seniors that struggle with dementia or chronic pain which both cause a lot of stress. With pets around, seniors can practice bonding without having to speak or move too much. No matter how hard your day was when it comes to pain, treatment or loneliness, your pet will show you love, give you kisses and cuddles and allow you to relax next to them.
If you have a senior person living alone, struggling with loneliness and depression, encourage them to get a pet (if they are capable of taking care of it). Or you can just make regular visits with your pet or ask your senior loved one to pet-sit for you for a few hours. They might even be willing to foster an abandoned animal. Sharing a home with a pet or just spending some time with animals can do wonders for depression, loneliness and happiness, so encourage it as much as you can.
This guest post was graciously provided by Diana Smith. Diana is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in alternative medicine and latest DIY projects. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.