Benefits of Pets for the Elderly


We are a nation who keep pets close to our hearts - it is estimated that 1 in 2 households will own a pet, most of these are likely to be dogs or cats. Pets are not just cuddly and cute, but can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction, help with light physical activity (because you just can’t say no to those puppy eyes who clearly want to play in the park!), and help us keep a positive mind set by learning how to live in the moment.

There are associations which help bring dementia dogs into homes to help individuals with waking, sleeping, keeping up an eating routine, being a daily reminder to take their medications, keeping them active, and engaging with the community around them - all of which results in improvement of confidence, and reducing anxiety and depression. Dogs also help the blind be more independent, and provide them with everyday help as well as companionship.

Living with a pet also helps reduce loneliness in elderly people. As we age and go out less, pets like dogs and cats can provide us with unconditional love and companionship. It helps us feel more positive because we have something other than physical pain or the negative feelings about ageing to focus on, it’s even better when that something - or rather someone - has big bright eyes and fluffy ears.

Pets themselves will also benefit from a companionship from an elderly person - there are many dogs and cats in rescue centres who have come to an old age and aren’t suitable for young, active families. From rags to riches, these pets end up in a loving and suitable home, with much needed attention from their elderly owners.

There are a lot of us who live with our beloved pets, and when we grow older we shouldn't have to be faced with a choice of potentially having to give them up. When you opt for live-in care, your life doesn’t have to change and both you and your pets can stay at home. You’ll even have help walking and feeding them, so you have more energy to enjoy your pets company!

If you or your loved one is receiving live-in care and are considering adopting a pet, there are some things to consider to make sure it’s a purrr-fect match:

  • Pick an animal which will suit your lifestyle. If you are physically challenged you may want to look at pets who are smaller in size, do not require as much attention, or can be easily handled by a carer.

  • Is the pet the right age for you? Puppies and kittens are adorable, but need a lot of care and attention. Choosing an older, calmer pet may be a better option - they will be more like to want to snuggle up with you in front of the TV!

  • Is the pet healthy and from a good source? Rescue centres always conduct health checks on their animals so you won’t need to worry about underlying conditions, or defects which some sellers won’t tell you about.

  • Can you afford to keep a pet? You need to think about food, toys, treats, accessories, insurance, vet bills.

For more information visit Dementia Dogs Project, Guide Dogs For The Blind, and Pets As Therapy.

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