For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in facilities, pets can help to lower blood pressure and reduce stress, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn. Jack, of Extended Family Home Care In Home Senior Care Agency, brings love, laughter and happiness to disabled and elderly clients receiving home health care services in metro Denver, Colorado. Jack comes from a breeder in Canon City and is a full-bread akita. He looks like a big bear and has the sweetest face and heart. He continues to brighten the lives of many.
“A new pet can stimulate someone to read up on an animal or breed, which can be very mentally stimulating and important at that age,” says Dr. Katharine Hillestad, a veterinarian with the office of Doctors Foster and Smith in Rhinelander, Wis., who provides online advice and sells pet supplies and pharmaceuticals.
Pets provide other intangibles. “Dogs—and other pets—live very much in the here and now. They don’t worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people,” says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey psychotherapist.
Pets also can aid in reducing depression and feelings of loneliness. “Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pet’s companionship, even when there were some downsides to owning an active pet,” says Linda Anderson, who with husband Allen founded the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis. The couple speaks about the joys of pet ownership and has authored books.
As people age they tend to go out less and pets provide loving companionship and help seniors living at home to not feel alone. Research has shown that having pets around helps with memory loss in elders. Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than physical limitations and other negative thoughts of loss or aging. The pets benefit as well when elders adopt older pets. They are fortunate to leave to pound and go to a loving home.