Most Americans own a pet, and many of them are older individuals. As people age, they often exercise less and face more serious health concerns. This is where a furry companion can come in! The benefits of owning a pet as you age are endless.
According to a study on ScienceDaily, researchers at Loyola University discovered 5 to 15 minutes of animal therapy each day was associated with a 28 percent drop in the need for oral pain medication among patients recovering from joint-replacement surgery.
The American Heart Association has also researched the effects of owning a pet and found:
- Pet ownership may be associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors and increased survival rate among patients. This could be due to increased activity, triglyceride levels, or decreased stressed.
- Dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity. They even walk about an hour more per day than those without a dog.
- Owning pets may be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower incidence of obesity.
- Pets can have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress, acting an anti-stress mechanism.
- Pets can help seniors overcome loneliness and depression. All the love and affection can help, but pets also provide a sense of responsibly and purpose. Seniors who had pets often got up, talked, and smiled more than those without.
Of course, you should never get a pet just based on the health benefits. Pets also need care and love on a regular basis but, if you are interested the next step may be to determine the type of pet you can handle. For older populations, small dogs or cats are often the best bet!
Resources: The Journal of Physical Activity and Health, ScienceDaily, The American Heart Association