10 Amazing Benefits of Seniors Adopting Pets

Why are pets so good for seniors? Animals have had an enormously positive impact in helping the physically or emotionally disabled. People who for some reason have withdrawn into themselves naturally wish to reach out when introduced to a pet.

Seniors are reaping the benefits of owning a pet later in life. See what makes seniors and pets so good for each other.

Years after the kids leave the nest and retirement has settled in, the benefits of pets become clearer to many seniors.

Having a four-legged companion can help make every day more enjoyable! Here are just some of the benefits of pets for seniors:

Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), owning a pet, particularly a dog, may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The study comes with some caveats, however. The AHA suggests that people who own dogs may be healthier to begin with.

Their study goes on to explain that people who own dogs get more exercise from walking their dogs, lowering their risk of high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure.

Both cats and dogs can have a soothing effect on their owners, lowering stress levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Increased Socialization

Because dogs need plenty of exercise, owning one is a great excuse to get out of the house and socialize.

Seniors have the opportunity to meet other dog owners at the local dog run, or join in events for dogs and their owners.

Finding the Perfect Dog

If you're a senior looking for a companion, where do you start?

There are a variety of programs out there that help match seniors with dogs looking for homes. Many of them even waive the adoption fees.

All over the United States, more and more seniors are discovering the benefits of pets, and as a result, pets are finding loving homes. Sometimes the right animal finds YOU.

Listen to your heart. Maybe that little dog doesn't need you. Maybe you need him! Puppy love after all, can be the very best kind of medicine.This win-win situation is truly helping both pets and seniors enjoy longer and healthier lives.

How Community-Based Elderly People Perceive Pet Ownership," New J., Wilson C., Netting F., 1986

While the primary benefits to animals are obvious - to place them in loving homes and keep them from being destroyed - the benefits to elderly persons are ten-fold (versus non-pet owners).

In a Nutshell, Here Are The TOP 10 Reasons
  1. Pets lower blood pressure and pulse rate
  2. 21% fewer visits to the doctor
  3. Less depression
  4. Easier to make friends (enhanced social opportunities)
  5. Seniors become more active
  6. Pets offer affection and unconditional love
  7. Pets ease loss of a loved one
  8. Pets fight loneliness
  9. Seniors take better care of themselves
  10. Sense of security
      Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia 

      As part of the disease, Alzheimer’s patients may exhibit a variety of behavioral problems, many related to an inability to deal with stress.

      Research at the University of California at Davis concluded that Alzheimer's patients suffer less stress and have fewer anxious outbursts if there is a dog or cat in the home.

      Dogs can provide a source of positive, nonverbal communication. The playful interaction and gentle touch from a well-trained, docile dog can help soothe an Alzheimer’s patient and decrease aggressive behavior.

      In many cases a patient’s problem behavior is a reaction to the stressed response of the primary caretaker. Pets can help ease the stress of caregivers.

      ABC News - Baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, and many wonder whether a dog or cat belongs in their golden years. For retirees who want a dog or cat — at least sometimes — there are unique programs to help connect older people and pets.

      Surveyed Attitudes of the Elderly Regarding the Benefits of Pets
      • Talk to their pet 95%
      • Pet helps when they feel sad 82%
      • Pet helps when they physically feel bad 71%
      • Touching their pet makes them feel better 65%
      • Confides in their pet 57%

        Public Open Space and Dogs, "Benefits of Owning Pets," Denise Humphries, 1995

        "79% of pet owners find it comforting to be with their pet when things go wrong, and 91% feel very close to their pet.

        58% of pet owners said they got to know people and made friends through having pets, with 62% saying that having a pet around when people visit makes it easier to get into conversation and create a friendly atmosphere.

        "Pet Population Facts," Lehigh Valley Animal Rights Coalition
        • 4,000 to 6,000: The approximate number of animal shelters in the U.S.
        • 5,000 to 7,000: The average number of animals handled by an animal shelter each year
        • 8 to 12 million: The estimated number of animals entering shelters annually
        • 4 to 6 million: The estimated number of animals euthanized annually because homes are not available (varies by geographic region - between 30-60% nationwide)
        "What would you do if your primary healthcare provider told you that there was an effective treatment for many older adults" that:
        • reduced stress
        • helped them deal with grief and loss
        • kept them more active
        • made depression less likely
        • sometimes helped them live longer
        • made them less vulnerable to suicide
        • increased their feelings of personal security

        "The treatment is available, and you do not even need a prescription."


        Mary Oct 9, 2014

        "As a senior, I cannot tell you how much joy and pleasure my pets and I share.  One of the best places to find a pet,cat or dog, is your local Humane Society or city pound. Think about sharing your life with a pet.  You won't regret it!"

         They have a program called Seniors 4 Seniors. Seniors 60 and over receive a discount of $50 when adopting a dog over 3 years old, and a cat 1 year and over. Check out your local Shelter for adoption events throughout the year.

        Pets for The Elderly Foundation Phone: (480)625-4679
        They help pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter - including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter, if part of the adoption fee.

        PAWS' PO Box 1037, Lynnwood, WA 98046 Telephone: (425)787-2500
        Fax (425)742-5711 or (425)787-2500 x850
        They are all about senior humans rediscovering the joys of having a cat or dog in their lives. The program places senior cats and dogs (typically over 7 years of age) with senior citizens who are 60 years of age or older. PAWS’ expert matchmakers will help you select a companion who fits into your lifestyle and housing situation at a reduced adoption rate of $35.

        Boomers Buddies Phone: (202)726-2556 Email: warl@warl.org
        Launched in 2013 by the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington D.C., is a program that connects senior pets with owners over the age of 50.

        Due to a generous grant from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation, adoption fees are waived for the senior applicants, and the rescue league strives to match them with a senior pet that suits them best.

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