Building and maintaining relationships with others keep our brains active, make us more empathic, and can even help alleviate depression and anxieties.
In this regard, most animals are no different than humans, which is why most people love having pets in their homes. In fact, having a pet is a bit like having a best friend: they love you unconditionally and are always there to make you feel better when you’re down.
For seniors, companionship is even more vital than it’s the case with adults. If you have an older adult you deeply care about, or are a senior yourself, here’s all you need to know about the healing effects having a pet can have on your life or the life of a loved one.
A pet is a responsibility, but one that seniors can enjoy
As we grow older, it gets harder and harder to do everything we’ve once done with ease. The body and the mind start asking for more rest, and that’s a perfectly natural occurrence.
Still, as their physique and mind are no longer how they used to be, some seniors often feel sad, afraid, or even angry. They still want to enjoy life and be useful to others. Finding the appropriate responsibilities to fit one’s actual situation can be a challenging task: some people will take on too little, while others will hurt themselves by taking on too much.
A pet in a senior’s home can make a significant difference in this regard. There’s always work to be done around them, but never so much to take up all the time and energy. A pet can really become a responsibility their owner loves.
A pet is a great reason to get out of bed in the morning
Depression is a common occurrence in all stages of human life, and seniors are, unfortunately, not an exception. As they have fewer friends than they did when they were younger, and their families often live away from them,
Luckily, having a playful, brightly-tempered pet is a great remedy in such cases. Not only that they need physical care (enough food, water, and activity to keep them healthy), but they also love to bond with their owners, making their relationship resemble a true friendship anyone can benefit from.
Knowing there is someone who needs our love and attention is the most beautiful reason to keep going, and pets can really help seniors learn to appreciate the little things in life again.
Some pets can be trained to be emotional support animals
For seniors who have recently lost a friend, a family member, or a lifelong partner, sadness can become just too difficult to bear. Feeling alone in the world is one of the most heartbreaking feelings a person can encounter. If a senior is depressed and nobody seems to be able to lift their spirits, introducing them to a pet can help remedy the situation in the long run.
Animals have a natural sense for others’ suffering and are often able to feel the same, emphatically. A loyal pet will always do their best to cheer their owner up, or if they feel it necessary, just stay near them to show their undying love and support.
Training a senior’s pet to become an emotional support animal (or adopting such a pet from the start) can be just the thing to do. These animals are even more fine-tuned to human pain and are well versed in providing just the help the person needs in their specific case.
A pet can help a senior awake their inner child
Growing up with responsibilities and commitments so often makes us forget who we were and what we wanted out of life when we were just kids.
Learning to think and play that way again is often close to impossible if a person doesn’t have a strong will and solid support in these efforts.
For seniors, golden years are the best possible time to relax and get closer to their inner child again, and a pet is just the companion they need in the process. A pet is always on the move, exploring, testing, and learning about the world. It can be a wonderful refreshment for someone who feels the world has nothing new to offer: now they can see it again with a whole new pair of eyes.
All that being said, psychology specialists remind us that, just as is the case with human friendships, not every encounter with an animal is the potential fit. Choosing a type of pet and a breed that’s compatible with the life a senior is leading is the first step in the process.