Studies have shown that pets can help improve the overall health of older adults. Senior pet owners who were surveyed for these studies said their physical health improved, and they felt happier and not as stressed out since owning a pet.
The University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging found that 68% of senior pet owners (ages 50-80) have a dog, 48% own a cat and 16% keep a small pet (bird, fish, hamster) at home. When asked about the health benefits of owning a pet, 79% of those surveyed said they felt less stress, 73% said their pets provide them with a sense of purpose, 65% said they were able to connect with other people and 64% said their pets made them feel more physically active. The latter was mostly true among dog owners.
An article from The Gerontologist, a publication of the Gerontological Society of America, found that, not only did dog owners engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week — as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — but they were able to improve their walking behavior. In addition, they were more likely to put in 30 minutes of walking than younger non-dog owners and walk at a much faster pace. As a result, dog owners lost weight and made less frequent trips to the doctor.
But it is not just their physical health where seniors see improvement. According to the Michigan poll, 72% of pet owners who live alone and/or have poor physical health said pets help them take their minds off their loneliness and/or symptoms associated with mental or physical illness. Science reported that pet owners who stare into their dog’s eyes for at least five minutes experience an elevation of oxytocin, a hormone found in the brain which improves a person’s mood.
Another surprising result from the Poll on Aging is that 62% of senior pet owners found that their daily routines are more structured because of their animals. By getting into a routine, owners found a greater sense of purpose in their lives and, because they are more mentally acute, they lower their risk of cognitive decline.
McPeak’s Assisted Living provides care for your loved ones while ensuring they maintain a happy, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyle, right here in Suffolk County, Long Island, near downtown Patchogue. McPeak’s offers a variety of services for its residents, including a full-time recreational program with pet-assisted therapy. With our affordable prices and excellent standard of care, we have the facilities to accommodate your loved one’s needs and allow them to live to the fullest. For more information, please call us at (631) 475-0445 or visit our contact page.