From birds of a feather to dog lovers and cat people – there are as many different types of personalities as there are pets to fit them! And while pet ownership does come with responsibilities, it brings more than just a wagging tail into your life.
The companionship of a pet can be an invaluable tool bringing purpose and engagement for people of all ages, and especially for seniors. Spending time with a pet is a powerful way to combat loneliness and isolation, bringing comfort and friendship while reducing stress and promoting overall health and wellness.
Studies show that owning a pet can help people live longer, live happier and feel more fulfilled. So, why do seniors with pets live healthier, longer lives? If you’re a retired senior and you’re thinking about getting a pet, read on to learn more about the powerful benefits of pet ownership for seniors and how it can improve your overall well-being.
Pets Benefit Your Social Life
It can be hard for seniors to stay social and active in their golden years. Pets make it easier to build a social support network by bonding through your love of animals. But for senior pet owners aging in place, social opportunities can still be hard. While independent living residents of Olympus Ranch in Murray, Utah have access to social opportunities through things like community activities, game rooms, and fitness and wellness programs, some older adults who live alone find socialization to be a challenge. Pets, especially seniors who own dogs, can help you get out of the house to meet people and find social support, both of which are important to long-term mental and physical health.
Pet-friendly senior living communities are actually one of the most desired options among seniors, thanks to the many positive benefits. In fact, all Hawthorn communities are pet friendly and there are zero pet fees or pet rent, making a Hawthorn community a great fit for any animal lover. And for older adults living at a senior living community, owning a pet is a great way to meet neighbors and make new friends.
At Jordan Oaks in Cary, North Carolina, residents can get together and walk their dogs throughout the manicured landscape or catch up with neighbors at the community dog park.
Pets also give residents easy opportunities to strike up conversations with one another. They can ask their neighbor about their pet, or what their favorite treats are. You’ll find that your pet companion can be a great asset when it comes to helping you make more human friends at a senior living community.
Pets Provide a Sense of Purpose
After retiring, escaping the daily grind can seem like a great relief. However, many new retirees find that after a few months of being on “permanent vacation,” it starts to fade. You may miss the sense of identity, meaning and purpose that came with your job, the structure it gave your days, or the social aspect of being in the office.
Instead of feeling free, relaxed and content, you may feel bored, aimless and secluded. Having pets helps you gain a sense of purpose, as you are responsible for their well-being. This responsibility can become a source of motivation that will get you through each day.
If you find yourself reluctant to get out of bed in the morning, having pets may just solve this problem for you. Animals are very vocal about their needs, and having pets will help create a daily routine where you need to be responsible for their care.
Pets Keep Seniors Active
The level of physical activity required from you will all depend on the animal you choose to adopt. However, no matter which pet you choose – from a bird, turtle, lizard to a cat or dog, all pets require work. When you take your dog on daily walks, you also get to enjoy the exercise. This improves heart health, strengthens muscles and helps maintain mobility.
Grooming, playing with and cleaning up after your pet can also be a source of physical activity. Although this may not be as much exercise as walking a dog, anything you can do to maintain your mobility and dexterity can be beneficial.
Pets Aid in Overall Wellness
Other than providing companionship, pets promote tangible health benefits that can have a long-lasting impact on your physical health and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet companionship can lower the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, encouraging a healthier heart.
Studies have shown that interacting with animals helps to reduce stress and boost your mood. Pets can brighten up your day and give you something to look forward to when you wake up in the morning, warding off feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.
Do animals promote healing for humans? Having a pet to care for and love can make a senior who is healing from an illness or health condition heal faster because the person is physically active on a regular basis. The care and routine that comes with owning a pet can also cause a distraction from pain, resulting in faster recovery.
What to Consider Before Adopting a Pet
It’s important to consider that, although pets do offer many benefits for seniors, caring for one is a major responsibility. You should only get a pet if you’re certain that you have the time, resources and ability to give the pet the proper care. If getting a pet isn’t the right choice for you right now, you could still experience many of the benefits by volunteering at a local animal shelter or joining a pet therapy program.
If you’re confident that you’re fully equipped to care for a pet, you also should carefully consider what type of animal to adopt. Do you prefer high-energy animals or calmer pets? Do you have allergies or other issues that might limit which types of animals you can take care of? What kind of pet personality would align best with your lifestyle?
Your pet should be a source of happiness and comfort, not a source of stress. By being cautious and thoughtful in your decision to adopt a pet companion, you ensure that you’re providing a good home for the animal while also improving your own life.
We’re Ready to Welcome You and Your Pet!
Hawthorn Senior Living is committed to the health, happiness and well-being of all our residents. Recognizing the positive power of pet ownership is part of that commitment. We want our residents to have the support, the tools and the environment to build the life they want, while enjoying it alongside their pet companion. In our communities, home means having your best pet friend with you.
Interested in learning more about Hawthorn and our communities? Contact us today to learn more or to set up a tour for you and your pet!