Seniors and Their Pets: Why Owning One is Good for You

Resident Pets

Owning a pet can be one of life’s greatest rewards. This is certainly truer in your retirement, when you have more time to enjoy your pets. From slobbery kisses to purring cuddles, pets can be a wonderful companion and a welcomed addition to any individual or family. But did you know they can actually be good for your health, too, especially in a senior living community?

There is a lot of research and anecdotal evidence that shows owning a pet can be beneficial to not only your mental well-being, but also you physical health. Having a pet in your life has been shown to: decrease stress, ease pain, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and more. The more studies that are done on the subject, the more benefits that seem to arise from owning a pet.

One benefit, for example, is the use of animals as therapy tools. If you don’t own a pet, having regular visits from animals has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, especially in those with dementia and other related cognitive impairments. It’s possible to watch someone with dementia go from lackluster to exuberant the moment a four-legged bundle of joy enters the room.

So which pet, dogs or cats, are better to own? Firstly, this is a debate that has probably spanned centuries and that almost everyone has an opinion about. We won’t try to sway you one way or another, but we shall point out the pros and cons of each animal and let you make the ultimate decision.

Dogs

Man’s best friend. The tail-wagging drool machine. A dog. The breeds are plenty and the difference in each breed is not only distinguished by shape, color, size, and look, but also by temperament. Each breed of dog has their own unique characteristics, and within each breed, more specifically, each dog has their own attitude as well. Dogs can be a bundle of joy, encompassing a multitude of purposes and being able to provide the owner with years of joy.

For some, the active lifestyle that a dog requires can be beneficial to its owner. Those that are able to get around with little or no problems then a dog, especially a more hyper breed, may be right for you. If you’re more on the inactive spectrum, then you’ll want to stick to a calmer breed. Keep in mind that within breeds there may be particular dogs that are more hyper than others in the same breed. If your lifestyle requires a more sedentary style, then dogs may not be for you. Canines generally require a minimal active lifestyle, at least. Dogs should be walked, or allowed to run, to expend energy quite frequently. Dogs can be house-broken, but generally, some situations are different, they cannot be litter-trained like cats. So the owner must secure some way of allowing the dog to get outside and do its business.

Dogs are a wealth of never-ending love, protection, and fun. Owning a dog can be a blessing with all sorts of health benefits. When choosing a pet, we suggests adopting from a shelter. The reasons for this are because shelters typically have a wide selection of breeds, mixed or purebred. They can also give you valuable information about a dog’s attitude. One of the best reasons to adopt from a shelter is how affordable they can be.

Cats

There may not be an animal that commands quite like a cat. Their independence is prominent even when they’re being dependent. There is something elegant, sophisticated, and regal about the feline.

Cats can be beneficial to all people. While their love can be unending, their independence can be helpful to those with limited mobility. Cats can pretty much take care of themselves, to an extent. They need food and water sources, like any other pets. They also need a litter box and clean litter if they’re inside cats. Even those with limited mobility can perform task such as these. Outside cats can require even less work than their indoor counterparts, but tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Having Pets in Senior Living

If you’re considering moving into a senior living community then you’re in luck. Senior living communities are more apt to accept cats versus dogs. Not all senior living communities accept pets, however. If you didn’t know, all Bonaventure Senior Living communities are pet friendly.

While dogs and cats are amazing pets, the benefits of having a pet does not end with these two common pets. There’s a new trend in recent years has been taking the senior living community world by storm. Bunny therapy is what it’s know as.

For those living in memory care communities, having a hyper dog or stubborn cat is not generally the best way to provide pet therapy to residents. In come the bunnies. These super-fluffy, calm, cuddly, and drool-free animals are small and can be easily held in the hands. Bunnies in nature tend to be hyper and afraid of humans, but those that are raised in the presence of humans are completely tame and docile and loved to be held and petted. Bunnies can provide the same benefits of pet therapy as dogs and cats.

Just about all types of common household pets can be used for some form of therapy. A fish tank with fish in it, for example, can provide hours of enjoyment and visual stimulation. Birds, depending on the type and temperament, can provide calming sounds and allow you to pet them. The smaller, furrier animals, like rats, mice, and the like, can offer the same stimulation as any other pet.

Conclusion

However you chock it up, owning a pet is beneficial to your mental, and sometimes, your physical health. It can be one of life’s greatest rewards.

If you want to learn more about fun and rewarding topics, like this one, take a look at our Twitter where we’re always posting something interesting to help those in their retirement years.

Filed in Active Retirement Active Retirement Communities Assisted Living Health Services Memory Care Retirement Lifestyle Retirement Living Senior Health