by Julie Randolph, Information & Access and Care Coordination Manager
In the National Institute on Health 2017 publication, Human-Animal Interaction and Older Adults: An Overview, by N. Gee, M. Mueller, and A. Curl, it is reported that “Pet ownership has been associated with lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, and faster recovery during mental stress. Animal-assisted activities also have been associated with increased life satisfaction and decreased depression in older adults.” The study also reports pet ownership is a predictor of long-term survival in patients with cardiac events. Older pet owners have been found to be less likely to report loneliness. Though owning a dog has the positive result of increased physical activity, the report also cited an increased risk of falls.
The expense of care, need to restrain while visitors are in the home, and the lifting and bending demands of dealing with litter and excrement are all considerations for pet ownership. Homes in disrepair because of unmet pet care needs become a health hazard for the pet and the human occupants and decrease the value of the property. It is also important to make a plan if an unexpected trip to the hospital, or need for long-term rehabilitation occurs. Advanced planning can prevent gaps in pet care and give you and your family peace of mind.
There are ways to benefit from animal interaction without owning a pet. Consider developing a routine of visiting a local pet store, volunteering at an animal shelter, or simply scheduling visits with family and neighbor’s pets. There are also many pet-friendly businesses and activities in our community, which promote human-animal interactions.
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Roger Caras