The Advantages of Dog Ownership for the Elderly

A dog can have many mental and physical health benefits for elderly people.

More and more research is showing that owning a dog can have a positive impact on the life of an elderly person including a variety of health benefits and a greater sense of well being. Is there an elderly person in your life who could benefit from the company of a dog? Here are the advantages of dog ownership for an elderly person:

Be More Physically Active

Geriatric researchers have shown that elderly pet owners were more likely to be active than non -pet owners. A dog benefits from a daily walk and this may be just the impetus an elderly person needs to get out of bed in the morning and start moving.

Feel Less Isolated and Slone

A loving and affectionate dog can help an elderly person feel less isolated from the rest of the world. Plus, caring for a dog can mean daily walks which puts an elderly person in contact with the rest of the world.

Feel a Sense of Purpose

When an elderly person doesn’t have a family to care for, a dog can make them feel needed. The responsibilities of feeding and caring for a dog can give an elderly person a special sense of purpose.

Experience Possible Health Benefits

Dog ownership at all age levels has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People who own dogs tend to have fewer sleep problems and complain of fewer medical symptoms.

Improve Mental Health

Elderly persons who own a dog have a lower incidence of depression and, in general, have higher mental health scores than those without pets.

It would appear that dog ownership in an elderly person can have a healthy effect on both physical and mental well being, but it’s important that an elderly person select a dog that’s compatible with his or her health status and living conditions. A rambunctious German Shepherd puppy would probably not be the best choice for an elderly person with failing health. A smaller dog that has lower exercise requirements might be a more compatible choice of pet.

Size is another important issue to consider. Since many elderly persons are frail, a smaller dog breed might be easier for an elderly person to care for on a daily basis. Some dog breeds that might be appropriate for an elderly person include the Cocker Spaniel, the Pomeranian, the Pug, and the Greyhound.

With careful selection and attention to an elderly person’s health status and lifestyle, a dog can significantly increase the quality of life for a person in their twilight years.

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