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The original item was published from 6/21/2013 9:00:26 AM to 6/21/2013 9:04:40 AM.

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Area Agency on Aging

Posted on: June 10, 2013

[ARCHIVED] Pet Companionship for the Elderly

Animals of all types, especially dogs and cats, help not only the elderly overcome the pain of loneliness, but also show companionship and affection. For anyone who is consistently left alone, pets can also provide a sense of security and protection. Pets can make one laugh and divert the mind away from troubles. Several studies have shown that pets aid in relaxation, lower one’s blood pressure, promote health, and extend one’s life. Pets supply a nurturing quality by ways of affection attention.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (AAPMA), senior citizens can benefit from the physiological, social, and psychological benefits that pets provide. Studies suggest elderly pet owners have significantly lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than elderly people with no pet. Because companion animals, young or old, need to be walked, fed, and groomed, seniors can take advantage of the increased exercise they will get which results from pet ownership. Walking and caring for a pet helps hearts stay healthy and keep joints flexible and limber. Along with physiological benefits, companion animals (whether
furry, finned or feathered) offer love and social interaction. These additional benefits of owning a pet will maintain the mental and emotional health as well (AAPMA). If you want to see an elderly person bounce back from depression and incorporate a rhythm and structure back in their daily lives, give them an animal which will provide a boundless measure of acceptance, adoration, attention and love.

The same benefits hold true for homebound seniors. Elderly pet owners have been shown to cope better with stressful life events than non-pet owners, and dog owners have enjoyed improvements in their level of self-esteem, versus those without canines.

Not only do pets give elderly persons who have no one to love and care for them a reason to go on, but pets also give unconditional love. Pets do not see an old person, they do not see weakness, disability, hurt or pain. The only thing a pet sees is a person wanting to love and be loved.

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