Most senior citizens need the presence of their family and friends in order to stay happy and social, but a growing number of senior citizens in the US are living alone. According to recent data, there are 12 million Americans over age the 65 who live alone, and 69% of those older adults are women.
Elderly people who live alone are more at risk of being socially isolated which can lead to certain health problems such as mood disorders like anxiety and depression, a weaker immune system and a greater risk of heart disease. This is why it’s important for seniors to have a companion at home, and pets make some of the best companions and workout partners for older adults. If you’re looking to get your parent or grandparent a gift for the holidays, consider getting him or her a cat or a dog. Not convinced? Here are 3 reasons why a pet is a great gift for seniors.
Having a pet can keep seniors healthy
When choosing a gift for seniors, the first thing that you have to consider is whether the gift can improve your loved one’s well-being. Having a pet can certainly do that since the act of petting a cat or a dog can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels in older adults. Moreover, having a pet keeps seniors active since you have to take a dog out for a walk or play with a cat indoors. A pet can also decrease depression and improve mental health in older adults.
A pet can help seniors to be more social
Pets, dogs, in particular, are terrific conversation starters. Seniors who take their dogs out for a walk in the park or other public places may find it easier to talk to fellow pet owners as they can find some common ground. Having conversations with other people helps seniors who live alone to be more social and develop new friendships to prevent social isolation and loneliness.
Having a pet can motivate seniors to take better care of themselves
A pet requires constant care, so when older adults have a dog or a cat that they’re responsible for, they’re more motivated to take care of themselves. Seniors may find that having a pet inspires them to eat better food or exercise more, as they now have to take better care of their bodies now that there’s someone who depends on them for food, shelter, and loving care.
A pet can be one of the best things that you can give to your senior loved one. The presence of these four-legged companions in their home can help to keep older adults happier and healthier and have a better quality of life.
Adoption is a great way to go
And if you’re looking for the perfect 4 legged companion for a senior relative, adoption is a great way to go. By adopting a shelter animal from an adoption shelter you will not only be giving an animal in need a much deserved and loving home, but you will also be freeing up the space, food and time used to look after them and thereby allow the shelter to accept another animal in need of love, care and attention.
However, when adopting on behalf of a senior relative, do consider carefully what the right type of pet will be as you don’t want the new family member to get too boisterous and knock his new pet mom or dad off their feet! Choosing smaller, quieter types of dogs or a loving cat are great options to provide emotional and physical stimulation, without too much action. Talk to your local animal shelter. The majority are run by knowledgeable people that have the animal’s and the new owners’ interests at heart. They will be able to help you to choose the perfect new family member.