Senior woman hugging her small dog

The Benefits of Owning Pets for Seniors

Whether you like dogs or cats (or lizards or birds) there are few things better in life than the unconditional love of an animal companion. But did you know that the pets we care for can make our lives happier, healthier, longer and more fulfilling? It’s true – there are tons of scientifically proven perks to keeping a critter around. Read on to learn more about picking the ideal pet for you, the importance of pet-friendly senior living, plus the real-world benefits of living with our beloved best friends.

Choosing the Right Pet for You

More than anything, it’s important to pick a pet that suits your lifestyle and physical abilities. If you aren’t an incredibly active outdoorsy type, you might not be the right match for big dogs that always want to go for a run. Conversely, more adventurous seniors might find that a homebody house cat or couch potato pug doesn’t work for them. Whatever animal you choose, make sure their exercise, space and lifestyle needs are a good fit for you.

Elderly woman in her senior apartment petting her dog

Five Ways Pet Ownership Can Improve Your Life

  • Keeping active. Thanks to frequent (and often brisk) walks, dog owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, along with a significantly decreased risk for cardiovascular disease. Even if you don’t own a dog, there is a proven correlation between pet ownership and a reduced risk of heart problems in seniors of all ages.
  • You’ll stay socially engaged. Isolation is a big risk factor in the long-term health of older adults. Simply spending time with your pet can help alleviate feelings of loneliness. Plus, being out and about with your animal companion can help you strike up conversations and make new acquaintances – after all, everyone loves to meet a cute pet. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself scheduling play dates for your fuzzy friends.
  • Pets make us happier. We’ve all experienced the sense of warmth and happiness that comes from spending time with a well-loved pet. But did you know that effect is backed by hard facts? Dogs and other domesticated animals can sense when we’re feeling sad, and they really do know how to make us feel better. Seniors dealing with loss or other negative emotions can benefit from having their favorite animal around.
  • Boosting brain health. When we’re around our beloved pets, our brains naturally produce a hormone called oxytocin. That’s the brain chemical responsible for inducing feelings of calmness and relaxation. The next time you’re feeling burned out or stressed, just spend time with your pet.
  • You’ll live longer, too. A 12-year study of Swedish adults found that dog owners were 33% less likely to die than adults who didn’t own a canine companion. While other animals haven’t been studied that closely, it’s quite likely that you’ll still see a big benefit from having the consistent closeness that owning any pet provides.

Senior woman walking her dog at a senior living community

Supporting Your Furry Friends

At Eagle Senior Living, we understand the positive power of pet ownership. That’s why the vast majority of our communities permit live-in animal companions for our residents, giving them the freedom to bring along the dogs, cats, birds, and other animals they hold dear. It’s all a part of our person-first philosophy – putting the needs and desires of our residents at the forefront of everything we do.