Seniors and Their Pets

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the tremendous benefit of a pet for a senior citizen. I have seen this personally in my own family as well as countless times in my hospital.

My Mom passed away a few years ago. During the latter stage of her life the bond she had for her dogs was heartwarming. She had been an animal lover all her life and had always doted on her pets. As she entered her senior years and spent more of her time alone the relationship with her dogs grew. The emotional benefit of pets is incredible. The petting and cuddling that was a ritual lowered her blood pressure and even helped to ease some of her chronic pain issues. Science has shown that this contact causes the release of several wonderful chemicals in the body to create this effect. The nice thing is that her dog was releasing the same chemicals in his body when they were cuddling.

I think the most important benefit was that her dog got her up and moving. The responsibility and love she felt had made it a priority in her life. Multiple walks daily were a part of their life. The act of feeding and caring for a pet also engaged her mentally as well. 

It always concerns me when older clients state they will not get another pet because they don’t want to leave them orphaned. It is possible to make arrangements so the pet gets a new wonderful home if something happens. When I look at the trade off and the benefit to both the owner and pet it is so important to share in that love as long as possible.

When my Mom finally had to move into assisted living and could no longer walk I saw the incredible benefit of therapy dogs. I was present when dogs were brought in and the entire place lit up. 

I would recommend “The Healing Power of Pets” by Dr. Marty Becker. It is a great book that talks of the huge benefit of our pets. Enjoy.

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