Studies show that in addition to providing friendship, security, and companionship to seniors living on their own, having a companion animal can actually improve a person’s mental and physical health in a plethora of ways.
A recent study from, the European Journal of Medical Research, found that elderly dog owners get much more exercise than their animal-less counterparts, suffer less loneliness, and are given a sense of purpose.
Study authors found that taking short, frequent walks with a dog can lessen depression, anxiety, and stress, and that physical activity doesn’t need to be overly intense. Just by letting the dog outside, feeding him on a schedule, and playing fetch was found to have positive effects on people’s physical health.
The extra exercise also translates to fewer trips to the doctor, according to a recent study of 1000 U.S. Medicare patients, which found that senior dog guardians had 21 percent fewer physician visits than non-dog owners.
Ditto for petting that dog: it can decrease blood pressure and even your resting heart rate.
That relaxation works both ways. “Petting an animal helps your body release a relaxation hormone while cutting down levels of stress hormones, and it soothes your pet at the same time”, says Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University.
What Makes a Good Match
While there isn’t one specific breed of dog that makes a perfect match for an older adopter, shelters and rescue organizations alike agree having realistic expectations and a support system in place increases the chances of the match being successful.
A senior should be able to provide exercise for their new pet, whether that means walking the dog themselves or getting a neighbor, family member or service provider to help. A very large or active animal may be a poor match for a senior with limited strength or mobility and could be a tripping hazard.
What You’ll Need
A new dog also comes with new needs. The Brookside Barkery is the perfect place to get everything needed to bring home a new dog. Check everything off your list when you stop by the Barkery to get food, treats, a bed, a collar and leash and of course toys! The Barkery also provides grooming services such as bathing and nail trimming which is a difficult task for someone who may not get around so well, and with two convenient locations in Lee’s Summit and Brookside, it will be easy to keep them groomed and looking their best!