The Importance of Pets for Seniors
The Importance of Pets for Seniors
The Importance of Pets or "Companion Animals" for Seniors
Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life. ~James Cromwell
Pets are significant in the lives of everyone, I believe, but have a particular role to play with seniors-- boomers and beyond. Pets can actually improve the health of their caregivers, bring new purpose and meaning into one's life, and serve a nurturing and socializing function. More than anything, pets make great companions in our lives!
Do you believe seniors (55+) should have pets?
How Pets Came to be Important
Pets-- or "companion animals" as they would like to be known these days-- have come up through the centuries with mankind. There is a consensus that dogs were domesticated (from wolves) almost as long ago as this planet was created. It is likely that 'useful' animals (such as dogs who herd the sheep) became 'pets' because they spent so much time with their caregivers and endeared themselves with their loyalty and desire to please. Pets are given space in one's home and heart as opposed to wild animals. Pets-- or companion animals-- have a different value than livestock, lab animals, working or sport animals which are usually raised merely for economic reasons.
Greyfriar's Bobby-- for DVD and Kindle
One of my favourite movies as a child was "Greyfriar's Bobby", the story of an old Scot and his faithful little pet dog who wanted to live on the old fellow's grave after he'd died. The movie illustrated how bonded these two were. Companion animals are just that-- companionable. They don't question their caregiver's grammar, hygiene, status in life, or educational background. As long as they are fed and given some attention, your companion animal will give you his or her heart for life.
Dog Helps Elderly Man Speak Again
Pets are Important to the Aging Population
Pets are Always There To Love Us No Matter What
Pets are important to children, of course, but they take on more importance as we age. Like the old shepherd Jock, Bobby's 'master' in the movie, we grow frail and forgetful over time. We may suffer from unresolved trauma and hurt. A pet can help us to overcome some of this loss and pain just in its unconditionally loving presence. Take a look at the video about "the Mutt Ministry" (including cats) in Alabama. Pets from a shelter are matched with lonely elderly and taken into nursing homes where the residents feel happy when they see the little furbabies.
The Health Benefits of Seniors Having a Pet
Get A Dog!
If you are a recently retired boomer or have just lost your spouse or significant other you might be at odds, grieving, depressed, not wanting to talk to anyone about your feelings. Pets are excellent during a time of transition. They make such great companions-- you can be with them, and as it says in the video to the right, "it's like talking about the weather only a lot more interesting". Imagine!
Pets can actually increase the survival rate of cardiac patients (the contact), lower and help you cope better with stress, reduce bone loss, lower cholesterol (!?), improve blood circulation and help you stay active and healthy. They rely on you to take care of them and in turn, meeting their needs, keeps you healthy!
Different Dog Breeds-- All Cute!
The Importance of Your Pet to Your Social Life
I joke that the importance of our pet lies in her having opened up a whole new social life for us introverts (my hubby and me). We live in pretty much a "Grey Hair Ghetto"-- a nice neighborhood but the average age is probably 65. Almost everyone has a dog (and some have cats as well). Taking walks with our dog Zoe is a social occasion. We have gotten to know people by who their dogs are. We know the dogs almost as well as we know the people. Sometimes we remember the dog's name but not his or her caretaker's. We have enjoyed a lot of fun times and learned a lot from other dog caretakers and from the dogs' interactions. Never underestimate the pet's ability to bring more playfulness into your life, either! And laughter and fun keeps one young!
Other Links About Pets
- 10 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Pets Than Dogs
Rori hops up and puts her paws on the keyboard. Using KT's lap as a chair, she starts typing: Well of course cats are superior to dogs! What dog can do this, or even think of doing it? I keep my own...