There's a sense of comfort in having an unconditional love from a furry companion - something you can't always find in another human being.
But pets aren't only fun and compassionate - they can actually improve your physical and mental Health, according to Helpguide.
Here are four ways a furry friend can improve your overall health and well-being:
1. It can lower your risk for heart disease
According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease for many reasons. Dog owners are more likely to engage in physical activity on a regular basis because they're taking their pet on walks. Because of this, those people are more likely to have low blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels.
2. It can provide a sense of companionship
There's a reason they call a dog man's best friend. The sense of companionship you feel from owning a pet can benefit the mind, body and spirit, according to Rita Altman, Sunrise's senior vice president of Memory Care & Program Services.
"An older adult's basic human need for security, affection and sensory contact can be met by holding, stroking or nurturing a pet," she said. "Because of the companionship and unconditional affection they give, pets can be a great source of comfort and security to seniors that tend to be isolated, which helps them to feel less lonely."
"Owning a pet encourages socializing."
3. It can help you meet more people
Taking a walk with the dog isn't only great for your physical health. People are generally drawn to pets and will often interact with you and your canine, which encourages social engagement. This is beneficial for both your mental and emotional health.
4. It can reduce your anxiety
According to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the comfort of having a dog can help to ease anxiety. Researchers found that pet owners had a lower heart rate and blood pressure than those without dogs, and they also showed less of a reaction to the stress tests they were put under.
Based on your living arrangements, you may not have the option to own a pet. Fortunately, there are pet therapy programs that allow you to spend time with a cat, dog or other animal and experience the same benefits you would with your own. Certain senior living communities, such as Sunrise, have a house dog and cat who reside in the community fulltime. For more information on how we incorporate pet therapy into our communities, contact us today.