The benefits of pet ownership for an older person, whose world may be getting a little smaller every day, are fabulous. Companionship, affection, stimulation, joy! Not to mention true health benefits such as lowering stress, blood pressure and increasing mental acuity.
For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn. And pets can reduce depression and lessen loneliness.
Pets provide other intangibles. Dogs and other pets live very much in the here and now. They don’t worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people.
Pets can be a great morale booster for the elderly — yet they can also pose a serious challenge. Owning a pet carries daily chores and responsibilities, and the elderly person has to be up for it. Dogs can give a great deal to an older owner, probably more than any other pet, but also pose the biggest challenges.