How Pets Boost Seniors’ Health & Well Being

If you are planning your upcoming stay at Sandy Pines and you have an elderly relative with a pet – then don’t leave Fido at home! Sandy Pines is pet friendly and has a Dog Park located in Phase 5 near Convenience Center 13. When not in the Dog Park please remember that dogs must be leashed and properly cleaned up after.  A University of Missouri Health Study has found that older adults who own pets benefit greatly from the unique bonds they form with their furry friends. The benefits lie beyond the physical, with recent research also showing that dogs and cats can help lower stress – a condition that can interfere with the well being and happiness of young and old alike. If you were wondering what a dog or cat can do for your parent or grandparent, read on and discover just a few items from a long list.

Pets Boost Activity in Seniors

Elderly people who bring their dog to Sandy Pines are often seen enjoying energetic early walks or gentle play in the sunset with their furry BFFs. The above-mentioned University of Missouri research showed that adults aged 60 or over who have dogs, have a lower body mass index, visit the doctor less, engage in more physical activity, and enjoy social benefits. Often, social interaction occurs during dog walks and visits to the park. Dogs and other pets are natural ‘ice breakers’ and often spark new interactions between seniors and other pet owners who are out and about with their dogs.

What Breed to Choose?

Because recreational communities like Sandy Pines are ensconced in beautiful natural sites where dogs have plenty of space to run and play, you may wonder what breed will best suit this type of activity. This is an important consideration when adopting or taking a pet home, since each breed has different demands and activity levels. Active, fit seniors may do perfectly well with an energetic breed like the Black German Shepherd, which loves running, jumping, playing fetch, and catching frisbees. Seniors who wish to go for slower walks or who are battling conditions such as osteoarthritis, meanwhile, can opt for smaller, calmer dogs such as a poodle or shih tzu, which won’t tug at their leash and worsen joint pain. When making your choice, visiting your closest shelter or breeder is key, as you can take the dogs for a walk, see how they interact with you, and gauge their activity levels before making your choice.

Cats Will do the Trick Too

Research published in Activities, Adaption, & Aging revealed that companionship of pets – be it dogs or cats – can help reduce physical and mental problems in the elderly. Indeed, study author Keith Anderson note that pets are a “creative, cost-effective way to improve the lives and well being of older adults. The report tells the story of a 75-year-old woman who is battling diabetes and arthritis, but who desperately wants a cat in her life. Indeed, cats are ideal for seniors who are too frail to go on frequent walks. They provide the unconditional love that many seniors can lack in their daily lives.

Study after study has shown that pets can help lower stress and motivate older owners to enjoy more physical activity every day. Even seniors who are wheelchair bound or who can only undertake limited exercise, can benefit from a dog or cat. The key is to do your research, visit your chosen animal frequently, and make sure you can cover the expenses posed by a pet. If you can, it could be one of the best decisions you can make in your life, for the company and friendship offered by the four-pawed is truly one-of-a-kind.

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