Man With Beloved Cat

Senior Pet Owners Live Better and Longer

Gretchen Heuring for ElderThink

Thirty years ago, researchers discovered that pets are good for older people (and sick people too.) Today, we can find beloved kitties and pups in just about every assisted living or nursing care facility. Volunteers take pets for hospital visits, and doctors even prescribe pets for recovering patients.

Here's What The Researchers Found

Those early researchers found some astonishing facts. For example in 1980 physicians from the University of Maryland Hospital and Medical school reported that they studied groups of patients discharged after a heart attack. The first group of patients did not have a pet at home. An astonishing 28% of these people with not pets died within a year. A second group of people did have a pet at home. Only 6% of these heart attack sufferers died. There were other studies conducted elsewhere with similar results. Our pets enrich our lives in so many ways. Now there is solid evidence that having a pet will also prolong our lives. People with pets do better recovering from serious illness or injury. More than that, people with pets do better at managing chronic conditions, are better at maintaining social relationships (with other humans) and move through loss and grief with more ease.

The Daily Walk

Walking our dog every day gives us regular exercise, fresh air and Vitamin D-producing sunshine. All for free. Who can resist the fun of that wagging tail and raised nose sniffing the air as we move through our neighborhood or nearby park. Just being outdoors reduces stress, and having a happy companion along is even better.

A Personal Greeter

No matter what, a pet greets us with delight when we come home. It can be returning from the grocery store, or a trip around the world. It's all the same to our furry friend. We came home. He's happy. It's almost worthwhile to go out and come back just to recieve this wonderful welcome.

Curling Up Together

It doesn't matter to our pet. We can read a book, watch TV, or have another human over to play checkers. Our furry friend will be perfectly happy to settle down nearby or very close. We are loved.

There Is Richness In This Relationship

We care for our pet. We make sure he has proper food and fresh water, some exercise and veterinary care when needed. Our pet gives back. He gives us everything; a better, fuller, longer life...and don't forget, he makes us laugh!



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Cody lives across the street from me with his humans, Sue and Mike. Cody is a senior doggie, a Golden Retreiver with soft eyes and a grey muzzle. I take care of him when his humans travel and since I work from home, I can fetch him if there is a thunderstorm. In return, Sue and Mike look after my place when I'm away. I think I have the better part of the bargain. I'm a senior too but I'm not ready for my own pet. Maybe when things slow down a bit for me. I'm only 70.

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Pets for the Elderly Foundation Logo

The Pets for the Elderly Foundation (PFE) helps pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter - including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter, if part of the adoption fee. To find out if the program is available near you, contact PFE at

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation.