The Benefits of pets for the elderly
Anand and Nayana, retirees, say their white Labrador, Leo is the only reason they walk between two to three miles a day. “He forcibly wakes you up in the morning and he’s always in good spirits whether we are or not. Though he is super annoying, he brings a smile to your face”.
A 2010 study, “Exercise Motivation and Fitness through Dog Walking Among Older Adults” showed that a group who walked with shelter dogs improved their normal walking speed and distance. They were also more likely to go for a walk than those who walked with a human companion and those in a control group. In fact, human companions often discouraged each other from walking.
A survey article in The Gerontologist, “Dog Walking, the Human-Animal Bond and Older Adults’ Physical Health,” concluded, “Dog walking was associated with lower body mass index, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise.”
Research also shows that pet owners (primarily of dogs and cats) can decrease their chance of coronary heart disease, the most common cause of death of men and women 60 years and older.
According to the American Heart Association, studies have shown that pet owners have lower blood pressure and smaller increases in heart rate. Significantly smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure in response to stress and faster recovery from it.
Effective for Mental Health Wellness
Popular researches explain the social and emotional benefits for people over 50. They, in some cases, find themselves living alone for the first time in years after a spouse dies, a divorce or even simply after their children move out of the house causing depression. Group dog walks, dog shows and other events keep people interconnected in the community. People over 50 are more attached to their animals because their lives are settling down, there are no kids in the house and the dog is always with you and not running off to be a rock-star or too busy building a dream career.