Five reasons a pet is a good idea for your elderly loved one

Five reasons a pet is a good idea for your elderly loved one

It’s fair to say that we’re a nation of animal lovers. In fact, it’s estimated that 57% of households in the UK have pets.

While often we get pets as company for our children, they’re also becoming more and more valuable for people of all ages, in particular those reaching the latter stages of our life.

Pets can be really good for elderly people for a variety of reasons. Today, even in nursing care homes, the likes of pet therapy and trips to animal shelters and farms are really popular among elderly residents.

If you have an elderly relative or relatives, considering a pet for them could be a great option. And here are five reasons why…

Companionship

First and foremost, one of the most significant benefits of pet ownership, particularly the likes of cats and dogs is the companionship they provide.

Loneliness and isolation is one of the most common mental health problems faced by those over retirement age, with limited interaction with other people. A pet can become a constant and loyal companion, alleviating feelings of isolation and providing an unconditional love that can pick a person up when they’re down and. R a real beacon of support.

Exercise and physical activity

As we get older, there’s more of an emphasis on looking after our physical health. It’s vital to stay active and mobile, which plays a big part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and warding off illness and both physical and mental conditions.

Owning a pet can encourage elderly people to stay active as they require walks, as well as being more engaging and playful with them. Whether it’s a stroll in the park or playtime indoors, it can have a big impact on the amount of exercise they are getting, for the better.

Mental stimulation and cognitive health

As we’ve mentioned, the exercise from looking after a pet in general is important for mental health, as all exercise is. However, interaction with a pet can also provide mental stimulation in people and prevent cognitive decline.

Activities like grooming, training and playing with pets can really help keep the mind sharp and engaged, as well as providing a source of stress relief, promoting an overall better sense of wellbeing.

Sense of purpose and responsibility

Often when parents welcome a pet into their family it’s to help children understand the meaning of responsibility and teach them the skills required to be responsible. As we get older we can often lose that sense of responsibility as children fly the nest, we retire from work and generally have less to do day-to-day.

By welcoming a pet into the family, that sense of commitment, purpose and responsibility returns, which can be a real boost for confidence and provide them with a more fulfilling role in their life.

Emotional support and stress relief

Finally, while pets don’t speak our language, that doesn’t mean they can’t be there for our elderly relatives. Pets have an incredible ability to provide emotional support and comfort, often more successfully than humans.

Studies have shown that finding solace in a pet’s companionship can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety and promote a much happier, calmer and relaxed attitude towards life.

Of course, before making any decision on getting a pet for an elderly loved one, it’s important to understand whether the commitment of owning a pet can be met by loved ones. It may be that a specific type of pet may be too much for them. However, if you do believe they can manage it, it really could be life changing.

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