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Top 6 Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

Thinking about getting a pet? We don’t know what you’ve heard, but owning a pet gets even better with age!

Beyond companionship, pets offer a lot more to our lives than we could even imagine, especially as we grow older.

Experts say, “Just 15 minutes of bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol, and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke.”

Who knew that Fido could be so good for us?

Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., chair of the Division of Preventive Cardiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, contends there are heart benefits in owning a dog. He says that having a dog may prompt owners to go out, move around and play with their dog regularly. Owning a dog also has been linked to better mental health in other studies and less perception of social isolation—both risk factors for heart attacks.

Pets simply bring a lot of joy into our lives. They make us laugh, give us a sense of purpose and keep us active and healthy. What more could you want? Read on!

1. Pets help lower YOUR blood pressure.

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is very important because high blood pressure can lead to serious problems such as heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. According to WebMD, “Petting your animal can lower your blood pressure, helps your body release a relaxation hormone and cuts down on levels of a stress hormone. It also soothes your pet, says Alan Beck, ScD, Director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University.”

2. Animals help relieve stress, depression and anxiety.

We know how stressful life can be, the good news is, pets can help! The Help Guide explains, “Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. They ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness and even improve your cardiovascular health.”

3. Four-legged friends ease the pain of loss.

Pets share an emotional bond with us and can provide us with reassurance and love when we are dealing with grief and sadness.

4. Pets offer security and unconditional love.

In a Harvard Medical School article, Dr. Greg Fricchione, director of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine notes, "We do best medically and emotionally when we feel securely attached to another, because we’re mammals and that’s the way we've evolved.” He points out that we feel especially secure with dogs and cats because of the unconditional love they provide. “No matter what you do or say, your dog or cat accepts you and is attached to you,” says Dr. Fricchione. Taking care of a dog or a cat can provide a sense of purpose and a feeling of validation when you wake up or come home and there’s someone who’s happy to see you.

5. You’ll be more active with a pet around.

Pets can promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging you to be active and get more exercise. Walking your dog counts as a weight-bearing exercise that strengthens your bones and muscles. It also gets you outside in the sun, which provides much-needed Vitamin D.

6. They’re a great opportunity for social interaction.

Pets can help create human-to-human friendships and social support, both of which are good for long-term health. In a Harvard Medical School article, Dr. Elizabeth Frates, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, explains, “I didn’t meet many people when I moved into my new neighborhood, but that changed when we got Reesee, our goldendoodle. She opened the door to a new universe of people.” Animals can be good icebreakers, making it easy for humans to start conversations.

American House is Pet Friendly

Cats and dogs are wonderful additions to your life and at American House, we understand and encourage that type of bond! Many of our communities offer pet-friendly senior apartments, so don’t worry about bringing your furry friends along when you move.

If you don’t already have a pet, perhaps you should consider getting one! Pets offer plenty of benefits, not the least of which is comfort and companionship. You’ll look forward to spending time with your newfound friend; petting and scratching your cat or dog behind the ears, and always having a buddy to relax with in your home.

If you’re going to make our House your home, consider bringing a pet along with you!

Read: Best Dog Breeds for Seniors and Retirees

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

Are you ready to start your next chapter? Contact us today.

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