I recently had the pleasure of listening to a presentation called, Companion Animals and Healthy Aging, by Philip Tedeschi, a clinical professor and Executive Director at The Institute for Human-Animal Connection at The University of Denver Graduate School of Social Worker. With this presentation I learned many of the benefits that result from older adults having a companion animal.

The interaction between human and animals have impacts on the physical, psychological, emotional and social aspects of both the animal and the human. Out of animals dogs are the most popular due to their high level of social intelligence. Unlike humans dogs communicate without words. Dogs learn about the humans in their lives through observation and responses. Cats come in second for companionship. If you have a dog, cat or any animal there are many aging benefits.

21 Aging Benefits to Baving an Animal Companion:

1.) Help with grieving the loss of loved ones and careers

2.) Reduction/lowering blood pressure

3.) Increasing neurochemicals related to relaxation and connection

4.) Higher self rated health

5.) Increase level of support

6.) Decease loneliness and isolation

7.) More time spent in community and interaction with others since when you have animal people in community deem you as more friendly and approachable

8.) Improved functioning

9.) Increase self-esteem

10.) Higher quality of life

11.) Positive mood alterations

12.) Live longer

13.) Improved health

14.) Decrease depression and anxiety

15.) Increase laughter

16.) Increase motivation for participation in activities

17.) Increase mental stimulation

18.) Helps establish a daily routine

19.) Increase physical movement with animal walks and play

20.) Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure levels

21.) End of Life benefits

  • Less reliance on health care providers
  • A reduction in pain medication

If you are concerned about having your aging loved one own a pet consider having your loved one share their pet with others who can help with pet care responsibilities and costs. To reduce safety risk make sure the animal has proper training. Another way to get human animal interactions is allow your loved one to bird watch or take a trip to the zoo. There are also local organizations that provide pet therapy. Make sure to have a transition plan for an aging adult with an animal companion. Let your aging loved one choose a loved one to take their pet when they can no longer properly care for their pet or move into a senior community that doesn’t allow animals. Ensure there are bereavement services provided when your loved one loses their pet. If you have any interest in pet therapy resources contact Denver Senior Care today.