Having a pet can make a world of difference. Anyone who has ever had a pet has felt the love and companionship they can offer. There are many positives to adopting an animal but there are also some challenges. That said, this blog has been written to explore the positives to pet adoption, along with some of the challenges you can face. In the end, you will see that adopting a pet can greatly benefit your life in many different aspects and that for the elderly, they can offer unrivalled companionship and combat their loneliness.
The benefits to having a pet can be split into two segments; physical and mental health benefits. Various studies have been carried out to illustrate the numerous benefits to pet companionship, which will be spoken about. Firstly, let’s examine the value to physical health a pet can have:
Firstly, those who adopt a pet that needs to be exercised, for example a dog, tend to have better physical health as they are forced to take the dog for a walk every day. As is known, a simple daily walk can improve your health massively, even if it is a 20 minute stroll.
Some health benefits cannot be explained, as there appears to be no specific reason for it. For example, people with coronary disease tend to live longer and survive complications, such as a heart attack, when they have a pet. For more information on this, visit http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2100&aid=638.
Moreover, people with pets tend to have fewer medical appointments and experience fewer minor illnesses (such as a cold). This occurs both at home and in nursing homes.
With regards seizures, some people can have them periodically. Maybe due to epilepsy or other conditions. That said, dogs can be trained to recognise signs of an oncoming seizure and alert their owner. This can be life-saving as it gives the owner time to prepare. For example, they can move to an area that is unobstructed and has less furniture. Consequently, when the seizure occurs, there is less chance they will hit their head off an object and seriously injure themselves. For more information on ‘Seizure Dogs’, visit http://www.epilepsy.com/get-help/staying-safe/seizure-dogs.
In addition, Parkinson’s patients experience something called ‘freezing’. This is when the patient’s feet freeze in place while the rest of their body continues to move. This results in sufferers falling over and in turn can make them sedentary as they are afraid to go outside in the event they fall again. To combat this, special dogs, known as ‘Parkinson’s Dogs’ can help sufferers when freezing occurs. They are trained to provide a counter weight to help the sufferer balance themselves. Furthermore, it has been noted that when a dog touches the ‘frozen’ foot of a patient, the freezing ends and they can move freely again. As to why this happens, it is unknown. For more information on Parkinson’s Dogs, visit http://www.pdf.org/service_dogs_parkinson.
There are numerous other physical benefits to owning a pet and if you are interested in learning more about it, visit http://www.chopra.com/articles/7-health-benefits-of-owning-a-pet#sm.0000yl5m1sonad4uvsa1mjaq347zx.
With regards mental health, the positive effects of pet companionship are numerous. Firstly, some pets require us to get out and go for a walk. Though we have covered exercise as a physical benefit, going out into fresh air does wonders for your mental health as well. On the off chance it is sunny, a boost of vitamin D helps fight numerous physical and mental conditions such as obesity and depression.
Furthermore, petting reduces stress. Rhythmic petting in a calm environment can lead to bonding with your pet and subsequently results in a release of oxytocin. This is the chemical your body releases to combat stress and anxiety.
Moreover, they are excellent at combating loneliness. Some pets can sense when you are down and feeling lonely. To battle this, pets seek your attention and rarely leave you alone until they feel you are your normal self.
In addition, pets love you unconditionally. From the moment you arrive home they are happy to see you. Animals have no concept of time, so whether you are gone for 10 minutes for 4 hours, they feel like it has been an age since they last saw you and want nothing more than to spend time with you.
Lastly, pets give you a purpose. You have to wake up and let them out to the toilet, to have to feed them, bath them and ensure they’re healthy. It is very much like having a child, minus the screaming and tantrums!
To conclude, pet companionship is extremely beneficial. When we have pets we are forced to go outside and see the world. They love us unreservedly and want nothing more than pet and owner to be happy. That said, it is important you choose the right pet. For example, some people are not as active as others and so adopting an energetic breed of dog is not a good idea. Do your research before investing in a pet. For information on types of pets and what would suit an elderly person, visit https://www.dspca.ie/ or contact them via phone/email.