How Owning a Pet Can Lead to Longer, Healthier Lives

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Owning a pet can be one of life’s greatest joys. Whether furry or feathered, on two legs or four, these animals that become part of our family have a proven effect on our lives.

Research shows that pets help us live happier, healthier lives in many ways. Owning a dog, cat, bird, fish, or other type of animal can impact our mental health, and physical health, reduce the risk of disease, and can become a trusted friend in times of transition.

There are many mental health benefits of pet ownership. According to WebMD, having a pet:

  • Lowers stress levels
  • Improves moods
  • Increases mindfulness
  • Eases feelings of loneliness because of companionship
  • Lowers anxiety and feelings of depression due to routines required for pet care

The physical health benefits of pets are numerous as well, according to WebMD:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Increased fitness levels
  • Pet owners tend to be less obese than non-pet owners
  • Increases exposure to health benefits of time spent outside
  • Reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure

It’s clear to see that Rover really can be a man’s and woman’s best friend. If you’ve had a pet for years, be grateful for the bond you’ve formed with the animal in your life and the health benefits they have given to you. But if you haven’t owned a pet and are thinking of ways to put a new leash on life, it’s never too late to welcome a new pet into your world. Here are a few things to think about if looking to own a pet for the first time in your later years.

Tips for Older Pet Owners

For older adults with mobility or balance issues, pets, and their bedding, toys, and food bowls, can present a tripping hazard. Large, rambunctious dogs may be too much to handle safely on a walk. As one expert put it, “Dogs have to be walked, but some dogs can walk you!” If you have concerns about your mobility or physical abilities, consider a smaller dog, a cat, a bird, or a fish.

Be sure to consider the expenses that come along with pet ownership. Some adults on a fixed income find that the cost of food, grooming, and veterinarian bills can be too much to handle.

Talk to a friend or family member about your plan. It helps to have someone else in your corner who knows about your pet and is prepared to help out, in case you face a health crisis or family emergency.

No matter what stage of life you are in, pets can be especially helpful during periods of life’s transition. Facing a move, downsize or relocation can be stressful, especially if trying to undertake the challenge on your own. Having the companionship of a pet can ease your anxiety and stress and be by your side to make your next step in life a happy one.

Better yet, bring in your local Caring Transitions team to handle your life transition for you. Our experts can create an individualized plan to suit your needs, handle all the physical labor, and give you the gift of added time to spend with your family and furry friends while you turn the page on the next chapter of your life.


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