If you have ever owned a pet, you understand the incredible bond animals can give us. From young children to seniors, pets positively impact various parts of our everyday lives. Research shows that owning a pet not only benefits our mental health but also has physical benefits.
If you have recently moved into an independent senior living community, the change from your old home may be a huge adjustment, especially if you are now living alone. Having an emotional support pet to spend your days with could significantly improve your mood, health, and overall well being.
Getting older can sometimes mean becoming more isolated, leading to loneliness and even depression. Senior adults do not have the same levels of interaction with others as they once did, and that absence of communication can be difficult to deal with. Having a pet can drastically improve this situation. Pets provide companionship as well as responsibility, so you are not going through the motions of the day alone.
Pets also give individuals a sense of purpose. Often it can be difficult to go from working for most of your life to retirement, or raising a family to occasional visits from the grandchildren. Picking up a hobby may not be as easy for some, and limited mobility can make certain hobbies discouraging. Having a pet to care for throughout the day will restore a sense of meaning to your life.
Having a steady routine will also help improve mental health. In retirement, individuals have fewer responsibilities and finding a steady routine can be difficult, but a pet naturally establishes this for you.
Depending on the pet you choose, they will probably need care that requires a certain level of physical activity. This is a crucial consideration to make when you are deciding what kind of pet you want to get. Tasks such as walking, grooming, or playing with your pet give you an opportunity to get your body moving. Simple exercise like walking is excellent for maintaining your health, but smaller tasks like petting or grooming your pet can also help you exercise joints and muscles that you may use less frequently.
Research shows that pets are an excellent way to reduce stress, as a result also improving other parts of your health such as your heart. Interacting with pets frequently has been proven to have benefits such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Considerations Before Getting a Pet
If you think you would benefit from having a pet now that you are in a senior living community, there are several things you should consider before making your decision. The most important factor is determining what kind of pet is best for you. If you have limited mobility or trouble completing some tasks, a cat or small dog may be the best choice. If you want to be able to go for long walks with your pet, you may want a dog that is healthy and capable of keeping up with you.
As a senior adult, consider adopting a senior dog or cat. Despite what great companions they can be, these pets are often overlooked in shelters. Whichever emotional support pet you choose, by giving them a home, you are helping them as much as they can help you.
About the author:
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beach goer operating out of Southern New Jersey.