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Companion Pets and the Elderly 
 
by Mary M. Alward July 06, 2005

Everyday pets bring love, laughter and companionship to elderly people all over the world. Doctors, social workers, home care workers and nursing homes recommend companion animals to help the elderly lead happy, healthy lives and give them independence and hope.

Everyday pets bring love, laughter and companionship to elderly people all over the world. Doctors, social workers, home care workers and nursing homes recommend companion animals to help the elderly lead happy, healthy lives. Birds, cats, dogs and other pets help to keep seniors active and give them a chance to nurture and receive love in return for caring for a pet.

Pet ownership for the elderly has both advantages and disadvantages. If you are a senior who would like to have a companion pet, or if you know a senior and are thinking of giving them a companion pet, there’s a few things you should consider.

Advantages of Companion Pets

Companionship

Pets are great companions for elderly people who live alone and have little contact with family and friends. Pets give them a different outlook and bring laughter and love into their lives. They make seniors feel needed and keep them active seeing to the pet’s daily care.

Acceptance

Pets accept their elder owners as they are. They are devoted, forgiving and loving. They don’t hold grudges, bring up the past or stop interacting with their owners because of a difference of opinion.

Touch

Research has proven that touch is very important to the well being of humans. We all need to be hugged and be able to hug in return. A cat curled up in the lap of a senior or the friendly touch of a dog’s nose will help the elderly feel safe and secure and gives them a sense of reassurance and satisfaction. Stoking a beloved pet can lower blood pressure and lift depression.

Keeping Active

There’s nothing that can bring laughter into the life of a senior like animal antics. Seniors keep active by feeding, grooming and caring for their pets. Dogs get the elderly out of their living quarters and into the fresh air and sunshine. While out walking, they meet other people who they can converse with. Caring for pets keep seniors active both mentally and physically.

Responsibility

By caring for a pet’s needs, such as feeding, grooming and walking, animals give seniors the incentive to maintain their own hygiene. Pets give the elderly a sense of independence, boosts self esteem and motivates them to perform daily tasks that may otherwise be ignored, such as bathing, eating and getting out of the house.

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