Australians love pets with a passion. We have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, and our furry or feathered friends are such an important part of our lives, it’s hard to imagine it without them.
While known to be human’s best friends, the latest research indicates that there are many more benefits to having a pet. For a start, pets actually make us physically and mentally healthier.
Interestingly, the RSPCA reports that ownership of cats and dogs saved approximately $3.86 billion in health expenditure over one year. Other recent studies have shown that pets can lift the atmosphere of the place and their presence helps everyone around them to relax.
For seniors particularly, the role of pets is significant. As we get older, there’s a big chance we could be living on our own, so a pet can become a very important companion at this time in our life.
Pets and Older People
Once retired, you’re less stressed and have more time to enjoy your furry or feathered friends. If this experience is something you’ve missed while leading a busy life and raising a family, now’s the time to enjoy the simple pleasure of owning a pet.
Keep in mind, however, that many retirement villages and aged care facilities don’t allow pets or only allow certain types. The good news is that if you stay living in your own home, it’s entirely your choice as to what pet to have and how to spend your time with it.
Physical Health Benefits of Owning a Pet:
- Walking your dog twice a day gives you a regular opportunity to go outside and exercise. A Canadian study by Professor Parminder Raina proved that pets help keep older people active by giving them a reason to get up in the morning.
- Increased cardiovascular health such as lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, mainly because of more exercise, contributes to fewer visits to a doctor.
- When compared to non-pet-owners, senior pet owners have a better ability to perform daily tasks, which improves their movement coordination.
- A Japanese study found there was a positive correlation between pet ownership and the level of daily activity of older women living at home.
Psychological Benefits of Owning a Pet:
- Rare chances of having depression and increased ability to cope with grief, stress and loss. An American study found that when elderly people lose a spouse, those who own a pet have significantly fewer probabilities of developing depression. The study concluded that pets appear to provide a powerful buffering effect against grief and stress.
- Importantly, therapy dogs have been known to improve the social and verbal conditions of seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Being more socially connected because pets are great conversation starters – What a gorgeous pooch you’ve got! How funny is your cat! – And a million other scenarios.
- Pets are great caregivers and companions. They’ll keep you company if you get sick or feel down and will make you feel safe and less lonely when you are home alone.
- Pet attachment improves family dynamics between the older people and their relatives; we all love pets equally!
- An Australian study on the impact of cat ownership on mental health by Cheryl Straede and Richard Gates discovered that as a result of the reasons mentioned above, pet owners have better psychological health than non-pet owners.
But What if I Won’t be Able to Take Care of My Pet?
Having a pet in your life will give you many reasons to smile but if your situation changes and you won’t be able to care for your pet, we’ll help you out.
Thanks to Care Connect’s individualised support services and via your Home Care Package, there are many ways to assist you and your pet with feeding, walking and pet grooming.
All you need to do is talk to us.