It is common knowledge that as one gets older there can be an increase in loneliness. It can be incredibly difficult to leave one’s home and be a part of activities with other people. This can often lead to significant loneliness and depression in seniors. One popular idea for giving seniors companionship and comfort is that of having a pet. Many well-respected publications and medical journals have done research showing the significant health benefits of seniors who own pets.

Pets do not worry about tomorrow. Pets literally live in the moment and can help a senior with that concept without the senior even realizing it. By owning a pet, a senior is able to take care of something other than their current problems and regain focus on what matters should they be depressed about their current situation in life.

There are certainly advantages for seniors when it comes to owning a pet. However, it is wise to talk with family, caregivers and even medical professionals before committing to owning a pet and welcoming them into one’s life. Do remember that by owning a pet, they will change the routine of daily life. Owning a pet comes with financial commitment, taking care of them and their possible medical issues and sometimes patience. Each senior should weigh the benefits and risk for themselves when it comes to owning a pet. One idea is to visit an animal shelter and adopt a pet who needs companionship and is older and trained.

Some various benefits of pet ownership includes:

  1. Improves social skills – Pets can provide social interactions with their owners.
  2. Increases ability to show caring and gentleness – Pets need love and affection. By owning a pet, a senior is able to show their pet the love and attention that they need.
  3. Reduces depression risk – Pets have been shown to be emotional support opportunities for seniors. Pets require a routine of walking, feeding and taking care of them. By taking care of a pet, a senior can focus on caring for the pet and working through their depression due to the routine pet ownership provides.
  4. Increases confidence and self-esteem – There is a confidence and even self-esteem that comes when the pet owner is able to care for their own pet. Owning a pet gives a senior purpose and fills an empty schedule. Taking care of a pet can help keep the senior’s mind sharp.
  5. Helps with anxiety – Anxiety often comes with loneliness and fear. By owning a pet, a senior can feel the comfort that a pet gives and even help them be calm. Pets can help seniors take their mind off any pain that they are experiencing.
  6. Gives companionship – Pets can help seniors by protecting them against the overwhelming feelings of loneliness.
  7. Improves health – This is one of the most important benefits as taking care of a pet encourages cardiovascular health because of the extra exercise with walking and caring for the dog.

If your senior loved one is unable to have a pet of their own, there are organizations that work with pet therapy and seniors. This is also known as Animal Assisted Therapy. In these situations, seniors are able to interact with animals and see numerous benefits for their quality of life without the responsibilities of owning a pet.

It is also advised that if a senior owns a pet, they they speak with their family members and caregivers on possible options with the pet should something unfortunate happen to the pet owner.