The Benefits of Pet-Friendly Senior Living
“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet,” wrote the French writer Colette in “The Cat.” As any pet lover can attest, Colette was on to something. It turns out your cat’s purr and puppy dog’s eyes do more than warm your heart – the loving bond you have with your pet can benefit mind, body and spirit. Because of those life-enriching benefits, pet-friendly senior living can be an ideal choice for pet owners (and for non-pet owners, too). Here’s how your pet can help you feel frisky and full of life:
Improve Your Mood
Pleasurable interaction with animals has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boost levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, sometimes called the happy hormones. It can also release oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that helps you feel more relaxed and content. This may be part of the reason pet ownership is associated with lower stress and anxiety and is sometimes recommended for depression and PTSD.
Support Cardiovascular Health
Having a pet is linked with decreased blood pressure and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Plus, pets can support recovery from cardiovascular disease – studies suggest that dog owners show a lowered risk of death after a heart attack or stroke than non-owners.
A daily routine can give you a sense of stability and control. The day-to-day responsibilities that come with pet ownership – taking Duke for his daily walk and feeding Lily – give a scaffolding to your day that can help you feel more organized, focused and productive.
Seniors are vulnerable to loneliness and isolation, which can increase the risk of physical and mental conditions such as heart disease and depression. But pets make great companions, which may explain why pet owners have been shown to be 36% less likely than non-pet owners to report loneliness.
Foster Social Connections
You of course feel a connection with your pet, but your pet can also help you connect with other humans. Dogs especially – or cats and bearded dragons that are willing to walk on a leash with you – get you out among your neighbors and can act as conversation starters or create an instant bond with other animal lovers.
Give a Sense of Purpose
Your pet depends on you. That responsibility can instill a feeling of purpose. It also keeps you engaged with life – visits to the vet, the dog park, and the pet store keep you active, involved and social.
Get You Moving
Pets, especially dogs, help you stay physically active. A recent study found that dog owners walked almost 300 minutes a week with their dogs, while people without dogs walked about 100 minutes a week. That explains why dog owners were four times more likely to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for physical activity, which recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
Mindfulness occurs when we let go of the thoughts that distract our attention and give full awareness to the present moment. Your cat sitting in a sun beam or your dog nestled in the crook of your leg are invitations to pause and be in the moment. Enjoying these brief mental respites can support relaxation, emotional regulation, better memory and cognitive health.
Pet-friendly Senior Living at Its Best
At Robson Reserve at PebbleCreek, you can take pleasure in your pet’s company and the many health benefits of pets for seniors. We’re a pet-friendly senior living community with a wealth of services and amenities, including a dog park where you and your loyal companion can enjoy the sunshine and the company of other two- and four-footed friends. Contact us to schedule a tour and check out our dog park for yourself.