There is very little that compares to the unconditional love of a pet. Whether they’re a loving Labrador, a purring Persian or a beautiful budgie; pets are more than just an animal that we look after – they are family.
There are many different benefits to having a pet later in life. Studies have found that people with pets were less likely to suffer from depression, had higher levels of dopamine – which helps to keep you calm and relaxed – and made less visits to the doctor. And whilst people with pets generally experience the greatest health benefits, this doesn’t have to be a playful dog or an affectionate cat – even watching the fluid movements of fish in an aquarium can help to reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.
Whether you have adopted your pet or had them since infancy, having a pet can do more than keep you company. Here are just a handful of the health benefits that come with the joy of having an animal companion:
Helping to ease stress and anxiety
The companionship of a beloved pet can bring comfort, help to ease anxiety and build self-confidence for those who are anxious about going out into their local community. And because pets live in the present, they know how to simply be there with you and be loving. This can help you to be mindful of the moment you are in and take you away from the stresses and anxieties you are feeling. Dogs and cats can also encourage playfulness and laughter, which can be a really great boost to your immune system and energy levels.
Keeping you active
Having a pet is a really effective way of keeping you active in your elderly years. Dogs in particular give you a number of opportunities to enjoy some fresh air, keeping your blood flowing and your muscles stimulated. There have been countless studies that have found the benefits of keeping fit, especially in your older years, and having a beloved pet to enjoy a brisk walk around the park with is not only the perfect way to keep you motivated, but it will keep them in shape too.
Helping you to cope with grief
Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to a loving companion, especially if you have recently lost your lifelong partner. There is no permanent fix for grief, but having a pet can give you the confidence to get out of the house and meet new people. Walking a dog can also create vital social connections by having conversations with other dog owners, which can be a great source of comfort through your grieving process.
Isolation and loneliness can often trigger symptoms of depression, but with the unconditional love of a pet, their companionship can alleviate these symptoms and give you a sense of purpose. Whether you’re watching the excitement on their faces as you’re throwing them a ball or feeling the soft vibrations of their purr on your lap, simply being around your pet can lift your mood as it releases endorphins – which are also the same chemicals that help to reduce blood pressure.
Sense of security
As we grow older we tend to become more frail, subsequently leading us to feel more vulnerable in the place where we should feel our safest. Sharing your home with a companion can often help us to feel more at ease in our home. For example, the bark of a dog is a strong deterrent for potential burglars, and simply knowing that you have a companion that you can rely on to call for help can alleviate a lot of anxieties.
Live-in care for owners and their pets
Acknowledging the need for extra support can be unnerving, especially if you have a beloved pet that relies on you. With live-in care, you can have the support you need without having to leave your home or your pet behind.
Your pet’s health and happiness can be a big influence on your own wellbeing, which is why a live-in carer is a great option to create a care plan that suits both of you. A live-in carer will be there to help you both so that you can continue to live independently at home together and will support you with all the important responsibilities of taking care of your pet.
Whether it’s keeping their bowl filled with water, cleaning out their cage or litter tray, taking them out for a walk or giving them lots of tummy tickles, live-in care packages from Helping Hands are designed entirely around you and those who matter most to you – no matter how many legs they have!