Pets in Our Fifties – Keeping Our Mind and Body Healthy

By on April 12, 2018

By Ronald Uy—

The benefits of having pets is not lost whether we are fifteen or fifty. Pets are walking, living gifts that brings much needed respite for the soul and body. It breathes new life into our homes, keeps us warm during cold nights, and brings light into dark corners. 

Owning a pet offers several health and emotional benefits. They represent a positive presence and trained dogs for example can help seniors in their daily activities. According to a research in the nineties by Sarak Bruke for U.S. News and World Report, seniors living with pets especially in retirement homes are more alert and smile more compare to those who don’t. 

Pets are wonderful exercise buddies

Keeping our body in tip-top shape is important in any stage of our life. And having pets may just give that extra motivation to visit the park or make quick strolls around the neighborhood. After all, living an active lifestyle improves mobility, lowers blood pressure, and improves cardiovascular health.

Pets are perfect exercise buddies. Whether its long walks in the park or long strolls in the neighborhood, pets are willing companions who seldom complain. Pets come in different shapes and sizes. They also come have different personalities which is often dictated by their breed. It is important that we select pets with the right temperament. Highly active pets may not be the best choice for those living alone or suffering from limited mobility. 

Pets help keep our minds sharp

The lack of physical activity does not only affect the body but also dulls the mind. Aerobic exercises reduce mental decline in seniors compared to their sedentary counterparts. Walks in the park or just moving around the house helps people in their fifties and older maintain their cognitive abilities. By living a more active lifestyle, we increase oxygen supply to our brains.

Pets bring added positivity in our life. Pets, especially trained therapy pets can help people suffering from dementia. They can also help people suffering from behavioral problems engaging in multiple activities such as petting, feeding, and grooming letting them focus on more positive thoughts.

Sense of purpose

One of the joys of being in our fifties is the accomplishment of raising our kids. We now find ourselves with more time to do the things we love but taking care of our kids also gave us a sense of purpose. Pets give us the opportunity to become responsible parents again. From food to shelter, pets look up to us for all their basic needs. This new responsibility makes us feel more productive and needed.  

The Department of Health and Human Services on Women’s Health stresses the importance of living an active lifestyle in promoting independence. With pets helping us build stronger muscles and bones, and improve mental activity, we can enjoy a better quality of life beyond our fifties. 

Pets help us create new connections 

Overall life quality can be enhanced with pets. Isolation and depression becomes more common with people finding themselves living alone in their senior years. Pets can be a wonderful icebreaker that makes it easier to interact with other people. Establishing new connections can be done by joining pet clubs or making friends with other pet parents in the community. 

Natural stress reliever 

Studies show that 15 minutes of bonding with animals create a chemical reaction in the brain which lowers the levels of Fight or Flight hormones while increasing the production of Feel Good hormones. Several support groups also use pets as ESA or Emotional Support Animals. Renowned psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud for example uses his pet Jofi –  a Chow Chow during most of this therapy sessions providing a drug-free alternative for helping patients with mental health problems. 

The physical and emotional benefits of having pets is just a bonus. With pets, people need no longer feel alone and unappreciated. The best gift that pets can give to their pet parents is their unconditional love and loyalty.

 

Ronald Uy is a researcher and regular contributor for pet insurance at ConsumersAdvocate.org. When not writing, he’s busy planning his next adventure or heading out to the beach with Lucy, a 5-year-old beagle. 

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Pets in Our Fifties – Keeping Our Mind and Body Healthy