older man and woman with canine companion
Canine companions benefit their humans in any ways

6 ways that seniors benefit from having dogs should be easy to list, right? We can all think of many ways all of our lives are made better just by having a fur baby in the family.

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All of us love our fur babies at any time in our lives. However, they are particularly helpful to us as we grow older.

senior man and his dog
We all benefit from having a dog

One well known expert on this topic, Yasmine S. Ali, M.D., M.S.C.I., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.P., is the president of the Nashville Cardiology, PLLC.

Dr. Ali informs us that “The elderly can benefit from the wellness advantages of pet ownership, which include increased physical activity, enhanced cardiovascular functioning and a reduced risk of obesity.”

As important as these medical benefits are to seniors, there are many others as well. Another expert in the field, Lisa Bahar, L.M.F.T., L.P.C.C.. This knowledgeable licensed family therapist and professional clinical counselor addressed this issue as well.

Bahar tells us that “Seniors often feel lonely and somewhat isolated, so a loving pet can offset these negative emotions, bringing them much comfort and joy.”

6 Ways That Seniors Benefit From Having Dogs

old man and his dog at the sea shore
Seniors benefit from having a dog in many ways

1.  Emotional Support Is Only One of the Ways That Seniors Benefit From Having Dogs

Senior man holding his dog
Senior Benefits From Interacting With His Dog

Quoting Bahar once more: “When people age, they many times feel unappreciated, disregarded or left behind…Pets serve as a support system, providing lavish amounts of acceptance and validation….Pets can help an elderly person know that they still matter — a lot,”

2. Encourages An Increase In Physical Activity

Older man and his dog outside
Man and his best friend

Dr. Ali further informed us that “It is important for seniors to walk or engage in some type of physical activity regularly,” and that “Numerous studies have found that people of all ages who care for pets tend to be more active.”

One such research study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In this study, those with dogs walked an average of 2.2 hours more per week than did those not owning a dog.

Many dog owners were found to increase their personal levels of activity to meet the amount of exercise needed by their dogs. Increased activity has proven to benefit humans and dogs in both mental and physical ways.

3. Enhance Cardiovascular Health

EKG strip
EKG reveals status of cardiovascular health

There are multiple studies documenting that individuals with dogs have over-all better health than those who do not have a dog. Three of the best known ways dogs improve our health are accomplished by the following mechanisms.

  1.  Improving Cholesterol levels
  2. Lowering Blood Pressure
  3. Over-all better cardiac health

In 2013 the AHA (American Heart Association) shared data supporting these facts. Furthermore, the AJC (American Journal of Cardiology) stated that patients having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) are four times more likely to survive if they own a dog!

4. Improved Weight Control

It makes sense that those who are more active physically are less likely to become obese. Dog owners who walk their dogs are more likely to maintain a lower BMI (Body Mass Index).

In addition to keeping humans more healthy, participating in physical activities with your dog keeps them healthier.  It is also fun!

Mother, daughter and large fur baby
Exercise can be fun!

5. Help to calm emotions

Quoting Bahar once more, “Sadly, some elderly people get very few hugs and seldom are blessed with the emotionally healing power of human touch.”

“Petting a dog or a cat provides the calming sensation of touch that is mutually enjoyable to both the pet owner and the pet. To touch and to be touched is essential for humans, and pets can serve to meet this need if the individual is alone.”

Trained Therapy Dogs are often trained to assist war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can be caused by any different kinds of stressful events and being in the military is not a requirement for this diagnosis.

Therapy dogs assist humans with many kinds of essential daily activities and social interactions. Both social anxiety and depression are documented to be improved by interacting with dogs.

6. Companionship

elderly woman hugging her dog
Ways Seniors Benefit From Dogs

“As the elderly suffer the loss of a spouse or the loss of friends, they can experience a painful void,” says Ms. Bahar. The voids formed by such losses can be filled by social interactions with other humans as well as by canine companions.

Walking our dogs or otherwise taking the to public places where we can interact with other humans can be very beneficial emotionally as well as physically. These activities offer spontaneous opportunities to meet other people.

In Conclusion

Dogs can be therapeutic in in many ways. Because of this, they enhance the lives of their human family members, whatever their age. Unless they are physically unable to care of their dogs, their lives are most likely to be made better by their canine companions.

You can read another article on how having a dog makes you healthier on our sister blog.

https://happymutt.org/how-having-a-dog-makes-you-healthier/

Find out more about types of dogs trained to help humans both physically and emotionally by reading this article. https://excellentdogsclub.com/3-of-the-most-popular-types-of-service-dogs/

 

Photos Courtesy of Pixabay and my personal album

Two of the medical Journals utilized in writing this article include the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the American Journal of Cardiology.

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As Wife, Mother of 5, and Nana of many more, I have known and loved many dogs who were treasured members of our family. My education, experiences in showing, breeding, and developing pedigree-based breeding programs for others gives me a strong background upon which to base articles of interest to most dog lovers. However, it is my great love for dogs that gives me the passion to share them with other dog lovers.

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