As people begin to get older, feelings of isolation can often accompany them. There is a large number of reasons why this may happen, but trouble with mobility and periods of illness are some of the biggest contributing factors. It is thought that hundreds of thousands of older people feel as though they are cut off from society, with social isolation having a detrimental impact on their health. Results from a survey conducted by the Jo Cox commission on loneliness found that almost 75% of older people in the UK feel as though they are lonely and have nobody to turn to, which is an astonishingly high number. However, it has been proven that one of the easiest ways to combat this is by investing in a pet.
Whether you choose a dog, a parrot or even a fish, pets can provide you with company that can prove hugely beneficial to improving your mental health. This is especially true in the case of older people, with 30% of those over the age of 65 believing that having a pet can reduce your levels of anxiety. So, if you or someone you know is considering getting a pet to accompany you, check out our guide below to find out what is the best option for you!
Not only are dogs a man’s best friend, but they also make great companions for older people. Although studies have shown that there is no direct correlation between loneliness and owning a dog, having a four-legged friend as a companion encourages older people to get out and about, meaning that there are more opportunities for them to engage with other people on a daily basis. With this in mind, dogs are especially beneficial for older people as walking dogs is the perfect form of gentle exercise. A light walk, twice a day, will help improve your cardiovascular health, as well as raise your general level of fitness.
What’s more is that dogs have been scientifically proven to lower anxiety and stress rates. Trialled at universities across the world, dogs have been brought in to help struggling students unwind from their hectic work schedules and it’s been working! Therapy dogs are now those that have been trained to provide comfort and love to people who need it and are frequently found in retirement homes.
Regarding your health, having a dog around creates a breeding ground for bacteria and although this may sound like a danger zone for older people, it actually helps improve their general immune system. Building up a defence against these germs, it has been found that people with dogs pick up coughs and colds less frequently than those without. Teaming this with the knowledge that having a dog helps to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, it seems like they’re more than just a four-legged friend to have around!
Cats are the perfect companion for older people. Not only are they low maintenance, but their presence in the home can feel reassuring. Much like with a dog, they have been known to help lower the side effects of depression and anxiety that you can feel from isolation, which can improve your overall mood. Due to their independent nature, they don’t typically take a lot of looking after, which can be useful if you have low mobility or if you’ve been looking for a UK stairlift provider to help you get around your home.
As an older person, there may be a worry as to who will look after your new pet when you’re no longer around. However, here are a number of options including adoption. This is also a great option when it comes to looking for a cat companion. Not only does adopting a cat mean that you’re finding them a loving home, but it also means that you can find one that is slightly older. These cats are often more relaxed and require a little less supervision in comparison than a newborn kitten.
When it comes to thinking about future pets, there is a range of other animals that are often forgotten about. Fish and birds also make wonderful pets for older people, although maybe not at the same time! A small indoor pet is a good option as they’re often contained, meaning that they’re easier to look after as well as not being quite as high maintenance as a dog. Getting in the routine of feeding animals, such as pet goldfish, can be a great help as it allows older people to exercise their brains, helping improve cognitive function and structure, something that they may be missing out on if they currently live alone.
For more information about how a pet could help a senior, check out these websites below:
This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.