Tag: therapy dogs

Happy senior woman with her pet cat

Pets for Seniors: Benefits vs. Difficulties

How does having or not having a pet fit into keeping home an option for your elderly loved one? Is senior pet ownership healthy or harmful? Numerous studies have been conducted, but the result statistics, either positive or negative, are difficult to prove. “I’m not a Grinch, but the science is not as clear as most people think,” said Dr. Harold Herzog, professor of psychology at Western Carolina University. “There is little debate about the safety and success of pet programs that bring animals into nursing homes or hospitals for patients to play with and pet, but individual pet ownership may be a different proposition, and it depends a great deal on the strengths and weaknesses of the owner.” 10 Possible Benefits: Ten possible pet ownership benefits that have been studied may seem obviously positive for the elderly: Comfort and companionship that can lessen loneliness and depression Increased social interaction: trips to the vet and pet store, walks where other pet owners gather, opportunities for withdrawn seniors to talk about a loved companion Reduced stress that could lower blood pressure (increased stress is also a possibility) Getting more healthy exercise in a pleasant way, by walking, feeding, brushing, or even just moving to look at pets like fish or birds According to a new study by the University of Minnesota Stroke Research Center, even having a cat somehow lowered their owners’ chances of dying of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, compared with people who didn’t own a cat. Feeling needed and unconditionally loved are common responses from pet owners More Tactile (touching) and cognitive (mental) stimulation are healthy for people of all ages Having a routine, structure and purpose is required to keep a pet healthy and happy and is good for the pet owner, too. Security for seniors

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