The Power of Purrfect Pets
IMPROVE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH BY ADOPTING A PET. By Heather R. Johnson
FROM PUPPIES AND kittens to hamsters and parakeets, people love their pets like family, especially seniors. And for good reason. Pets provide the companionship seniors crave, along with immeasurable unconditional love and joy. In addition to giving our well-being a boost, studies show that pet ownership offers a number of health benefits including lower blood pressure and reduced stress levels. “When we take care of a creature that depends on us, it brings out an altruistic part of us,” says Dr. Jennifer Freed, executive director of Attitude Harmony
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Achievement, an educational program based in Southern California. “As we age, we begin to feel irrelevant. Pets remind us that we are important and have a lot to give.” Most pets have an easygoing nature that helps ease seniors’ worries. “If you’re having a bad day, and there’s a puppy or cat waiting to see you, petting them will calm your nervous system,” says Freed. “We get the benefit of their positive nature.” Spectrum Retirement Communities’ Vice President of Fun, J.R. Comita, sees this all the time when he visits communities
with his Chihuahua, Binky. “A pet is more than a companion,” he says. “It creates a feeling of being needed, as well as camaraderie and socialization. Those are things we want our residents to have.” If you’re considering adopting a pet, make sure you choose the right animal for your activity level, lifestyle and budget. Most pet owners agree that the benefits of companionship outweigh any negatives associated with pet ownership. “I’ve heard of so many people reluctant to adopt a pet,” says Freed. “But once they do, they fall madly in love.”
Unbreakable Bonds. From family to furry friends, caregiving connections last a lifetime.