7 Ways Dogs Improve the Lives of Seniors
Dogs are a great source of entertainment and companionship, and they are a particularly good resource for seniors as they transition into retirement living. Having a pet has many benefits that relate to a person’s overall wellbeing and happiness, and it’s a great way to ensure that seniors have some fun and fulfillment in their lives as retirees.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider pet-friendly retirement living for the senior in your life.
1. Dogs provide companionship
One of the biggest reasons for seniors to consider adopting a dog is that they can really help lessen the loneliness that often comes along with old age. Transitioning into a retirement home can be very challenging for many people, and this big life change sometimes can result in depression, particularly if the senior has lost a spouse or other loved ones and is transitioning to living on his or her own. A dog makes a very reliable companion and can help prevent this type of depression from setting in.
2. Dogs reduce stress levels
It’s important for seniors to keep their stress levels low for good physical and emotional health in old age. Dogs are a great way to reduce these stress levels. Interacting with a beloved pet actually produces helpful chemicals in the brain that keep us relaxed and happy. These chemicals can be helpful for a variety of different medical conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This overall stress reduction can help seniors live longer, happier lives in retirement homes.
3. Dogs are an easy way to make friends
It’s important for seniors to have social interaction in their lives, and dogsare a great excuse to talk to others. For example, dog walking is a very easy way to meet and make friends with other dog owners. Having a furry companion in common makes for a very easy topic of conversation and fast bonding. They make for something interesting to talk about, and you can plan socialization around meeting one another’s pets.
4. Dogs help seniors maintain a routine
Something many people struggle with in retirement is keeping up a regular routine without the daily structure of work and taking care of kids or other family members. Although it’s challenging, it’s very important for seniors to maintain a routine to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. Dogs provide seniors with that much-needed routine because they’ll need the same care every day. They need to be fed, exercised, and cleaned up after regularly. This little bit of structure is essential for seniors as they transition into senior living, particularly as a means to stave off memory loss.
5. Seniors make good dog owners
Having a dog is not just beneficial for a senior, it can also be very beneficial for the canine. There are millions of dogs around the world living in shelters and waiting to be adopted, and they aren’t always living in optimal conditions. Seniors can provide these animals with a great life because they have plenty of time to focus on their pet, and they likely have plenty of emotional room in their life for an animal as well. Knowing that they’re improving the quality of a dog's life is very rewarding for many seniors, and it's a great reason to take care of a canine.
6. Dogs can help seniors stay fit
If the senior chooses to adopt a dog, the dog can actually help the senior stay active and fit with daily walks. Dogs require frequent exercise, and walking is a great, gentle form of exercise for seniors. As the body ages, it’s important to continue regular exercise to keep the bones and muscles healthy. Walking a dog is fun, so it’s an easy way to incorporate exercise into your routine that doesn’t feel strenuous. Even playing with other types of pets, such as cats or rabbits, can give seniors some gentle daily exercise and activity.
7. Dogs help seniors feel safe
A big adjustment for many seniors transitioning into retirement and senior homes is living alone. Living alone can feel scary at times, but having a pet can give seniors the security they’re looking for, especially at night. Pets often will make noise if there’s an intruder or something feels off, which can scare off an intruder and give the pet’s owner time to call the police.
Although dogs bring huge benefits for seniors, it’s crucial that they find the right pet for their needs. There are several important factors to consider when choosing a dog for a senior, such as its exercise and grooming needs. It’s also important to consult with the retirement facility (if applicable) about pets and other senior care help. Among other things, it’s very important to make sure the dog has the right temperament for living with a senior. High-maintenance pets or very active pets may not be the best for seniors, who often don’t have the energy to manage a very active pet.
There are plenty of smaller things to consider when looking for a pet for a senior citizen. The senior’s allergies as well as the dog’s grooming needs are both important to consider. The size of the pet is also very important, particularly if the senior is in an assisted-living facility. Finally, the age of the pet should be taken into consideration. A fully grown but still young pet is ideal. Both young and senior animals can present challenges that will be difficult for seniors to deal with.
Dogs can do wonders for seniors, particularly seniors dealing with the emotional or physical struggles of getting older. They provide invaluable companionship and social interaction for seniors. If you have a senior citizen in your life, consider helping that senior find a dog or moving them into a pet-friendly retirement home.