The companionship of owning a pet increases the happiness of many seniors and has real health benefits.
Physical health is related to psychological and emotional well-being, and many studies have shown that owning and handling animals has significant benefits. An animal companion can help older adults live longer, healthier lives. A May 1999 geriatrics study showed that seniors living with pets had better physical and mental health on average than those who did not.
Loneliness and social isolation can be major problems for seniors, and owning a pet can provide companionship, a sense of purpose and a daily routine — all of which contribute to mental well-being.
Recognizing these benefits, some skilled nursing facilities and independent living communities permit pets. Ensure that the pet you choose suits its potential owner’s temperament. If you are considering a pet for a senior living independently, be sure to consider a plan for the animal’s care and determine whether you or someone else would care for the animal if the senior is no longer able to.