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Why Pets Are Good For Old Folks

Ella Traver | ElderThink | 8.20.10


The inevitable tragedies come along as we grow old. Loved ones pass on and we miss them. We struggle with our own physical and mental problems too. It can all be quite depressing.


Pets need us. We must feed and groom them, find ways for them to get excercise, clean up after them, and just plain love them. They shift our attention away from ourselves and they comfort us. They get us out and about where we have to speak to other people whether we want to or not.


Best of all, pets make us smile. They even make us laugh sometimes with their antics. Anyone ever see a great big dog stick her head under a chair during a thunderstorm?


No doubt about it. Pets are good for us as we get older.



The Love Of A Pet



Senior Pet Owners Live Better and Longer

Gretchen Heuring | ElderThink | 8.19.10


Thirty years ago, researchers discovered that pets are good for older people (and sick people too.) Today, we can find

man with cat

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.


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 had NO pet at home and 28% died. A second group did have a pet at home and only 6% died.* There were other studies conducted elsewhere with similar results. 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 humans,) and move through loss and grief with more ease.


Do Pets Actually Reduce Their Human's Blood Pressure?


Current research in the US, Europe and Australia suggests that people who own pets have lower blood pressure than people who do not own pets. So far, this new research is inconclusive but many of us have experienced the times when these amazing animals know we need them and they have a calming effect on us.


*Animal Companions and On-Year Survival of Patients from a Coronary Care Unit

Erika Friedmann, Aaron Honori Katcher, James J. Lynch, Sue Ann Thomas