Loneliness, stress, and depression are some of the worst conditions that attack seniors. Seniors need to feel the power of love in their lives. They need to be shown time and time again that they matter helping to eliminate loneliness and depression in their lives.
Pets offer an authentic connection with seniors and encourages nonverbal communication. This connection goes a long way, especially for seniors with dementia. Studies have shown that seniors benefit a lot from spending time and interacting with animals. In some instances, it is more beneficial than spending time with people.
Almost 80 percent of people aged between 50 and 80 say having a pet reduces stress and gives them a sense of purpose. Knowing the pet isn’t going to leave makes them happy.
Dr. William Banks from Saint Louis University found that nursing home residents preferred spending time with pets more than people. According to the studied nursing homes, the residents reported feeling less lonely after some time with a dog alone even more than when people joined in on the pet visit. The visiting dog reduces loneliness and encourages socialization among the residents.
Isolation in seniors can make conditions like depression and dementia worse. Petting or interacting with a cat, dog, or other pet helps relieve stress in the seniors and reduce depression. The animals offer a listening ear to lonely people. A simple act of scratching the dog’s or cat’s ears or talking to the pet is therapeutic and boosts the mood of a person.
Seniors who own pets have an added benefit. They engage in more frequent exercise. Caring for a dog provides opportunities for seniors to socialize with other dog owners. Sharing an interest in animals with other owners, laughing and making jokes about the pets goes a long way into relieving depression and reducing loneliness.
Owning a pet adds a routine to the day. Pets require routine feeding and having a regular exercise schedule. This routine might be the boost or motivation a lonely person needs to get out of bed every day. It gives the pet owner a sense of purpose, engagement, and connection.
The benefits of owning a pet are not just mental. Research has shown that pet owners have elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine and have lower blood pressure too.
While pets are beneficial, they aren’t for everyone. Many nursing homes encourage visiting pets to help seniors stay active and less depressed.