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Petting animals has proven benefits for many disorders among older adults. With growing age, people tend to go through many socio-economic challenges. Some are bound to live alone, while others face societal pressures. Many primary health care experts, psychiatrists, and doctors suggest adopting a pet to help ward off loneliness and depression. 

Human-pet interactions have a positive impact on the health and well-being of the majority of individuals. Pets help their owners develop a sense of joy and purpose and promote them to develop a routine. According to studies, 72% of people report physical and emotional benefits from keeping a pet. 

Importance of Pets as Healers for Elderly 

Having a pet animal positively influences health as petting an animal releases serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, famously known as the happy hormone, helps avoid depression and chronic anxiety. Domesticated animals help in recovering elderly patients from PTSD and ADHD as well. 


Older people tend to get cranky quickly as their brain activity weakens and becomes more stagnant. Primary care doctors suggest that you adopt a pet as a coping mechanism to handle the pressure of aging. Owning a pet such as a dog or a cat can enrich your life and keep you active. 

Physical Health Advantages of Elderly Owning a Pet 

Taking walks in outside with your pup gives you a chance for fresh air and mental stimulation for you and your pup!

Image source: Pixabay

Pets uniquely bond with their owners to offer comfort and companionship. Keeping a pet has physical health benefits for older people, some of which are mentioned below. 

Disease Prevention 

Pets are used as a disease prevention strategy by many elders. Because of weak muscles and weaker immunity, older people develop health conditions too quickly. Keeping a pet helps alleviate many disorders, like:

  • Hypertension (Regulating Blood Pressure) 
  • Muscle stress
  • Risk of brain hemorrhage 

Increased Physical Activity 

One of the most significant physical benefits of owning a pet is the increased physical activity of the senior citizen. Maintaining a pet is challenging; you have to feed them, play with them, and go for a walk every day.

  • Taking pets on walks makes older adults walk and exercise regularly. 
  • It helps them develop a routine. 
  • It helps them build stamina and improve lung capacity. 
  • Grooming and playing with the pet develop mobility in the elderly. 

Enhanced Social Interaction 

When elders take dogs on walks, they grow to be more socially active. Most elders tend to find comfort in isolation, making them feel lonely. 

  • Walking a pet helps elders meet more people in parks and improves interactions. 
  • It makes many kids want to play with their pets or know about them, instilling a sense of happiness in them. 
  • It helps them leave their house and know their neighbors more while taking their pets out. 

Improved Memory 

Pets not only have the usual benefits but are also commonly used in psychological treatments. They improve the brain functionality of the owner. 

  • Owning a pet can improve memory recall. 
  • They help in regaining focus. 
  • They improve the owner’s mental cognition. 

Enhanced Organ Functionality 

With a routine and regular physical activity, organs tend to heal themselves and start working better. 

  • Owning a pet is known to reduce the risks of heart diseases. 
  • Pets keep you active, which helps with the better working of the liver and reduced cholesterol levels. 
  • With increased brain function, pets can help with Alzheimer’s disease and delay dementia. 

Psychological Health Advantages of Elderly Owning a Pet 

With growing age, brain functionality decreases because of neuron inactivity and muscle weakness. Older people tend to forget things more quickly and take social and financial pressures more easily. Some of the psychological health advantages of owning a pet are as follows:

Emotional Support Animal 

Acclimatizing to the environment after being left alone is hardest for elders. Retirements and children moving out leaves a lasting impact on mental health. Family doctors may suggest keeping a pet as an emotional support animal for such elders.

Relieve Stress and Anxiety 

Staying alone, introverted, and unattended promotes stress and anxiety. Owning a pet helps recover from unintended stress and anxiety. 

  • Pets such as dogs are known to read and work with your mood to make you happier. 
  • Playing with a pet can help relieve anxiety drastically by distracting the elderly from overthinking and overprocessing their issues or trauma. 

Reduced Feeling of Loneliness

Lonely surroundings develop depression and frustration among old adults. Losing a spouse or children being too busy can lead to a sense of loneliness. 

  • Owning a pet helps fill the void of companionship. 
  • They keep elders on their toes to keep the sense of isolation at bay. 

Develop a Sense of Purpose

Keeping a pet brings a new purpose to life. Life tends to move slowly as people grow older, they lose perspective. They lose motivation and the will to enjoy life. Pets help them recover from lack of motivation and uncertainty.

  • By tending to the pets’ needs, older adults get busy and lose their sense of worthlessness. 
  • Pets help in keeping them calm and inspired. 


Owning a pet has physical and mental health advantages for the elderly. Studies show that elders who own pets live calmer, motivated, healthy, and positive life. Many primary care physicians recommend older adults keep a pet to help in keeping them active and fit. Pets are agile and need caregiving. This keeps the owner distracted from illness or mental stress. 

Walking dogs or pets leads to the elderly developing new bonds with more people and fresher interactions. Improved physical activity helps them recover from PTSD and prevent diseases such as hypertension and cardiac issues. All in all, pets leave a positive and lasting impact on the overall health of elderly people. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does owning a pet improve the life of the elderly? 

Yes, pets are known to improve health behaviors and the overall well-being of the elderly. They wade off feelings of loneliness and improve the social activity of the senior citizen. 

Which is the best-known pet for an old adult?

Dogs and cats are ideal as pets for adults. Dogs have known benefits in improving physical activity among adults because of their active and playful nature, whereas cats offer good companionship. 

Which pets do caregivers recommend to help with anxiety for bed-ridden patients?

Keeping a cat as a pet can be a good anxiety reliever for the elderly as they keep you distracted. Cats are primarily self-maintainable, so they do not require a lot of movement, which is beneficial in the case of bed-ridden patients. 

Are pets helpful for mental health? 

Primary care physicians suggest that pet-based interventions help with loneliness and depression among isolated and disoriented older people. They help relieve stress and develop a sense of purpose in the individual. 

photo cred: Pixabay

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