As kids grow up and leave the house, many sense a feeling of empty nest syndrome, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Adopting a pet to fill the void in your heart and home may be more beneficial than you may think! People have anecdotally praised the owning of pets for years. And a new poll shows that having a furry companion actually helps older folks cope with their mental and physical health.
The National Poll on Healthy Aging studied 2,051 adults ages 50 to 80 and found 55% of adults are pet owners. The emotional benefits of these bonds, including a newfound enjoyment of life, feeling loved, and that their pets provided them with a sense of purpose.
The Direct Benefits
Along with the emotional benefits of pet ownership, it has even more direct benefits. Older pet owners said that their pets reduced their stress levels, helped them cope with their physical and emotional health, and helped take their mind off the pain they were feeling. The numbers were even higher among participants who reported being in poor physical health. “Relationships with pets tend to be less complicated than those with humans, and pets are often a source of great enjoyment,” one of the poll’s contributors said in a news release.
The Bottom Line
Pet ownership has long been associated with better health. For example, the American Heart Association has linked dog ownership with greater longevity and reduced risk for heart disease. Pets can reduce depression and encourage a more active lifestyle. If you aren’t an older person, there are plenty of ways to help. You can train your pets to become therapy animals and take them to senior centers, retirement homes, and hospitals to help provide a sense of comfort. If you know a senior citizen or older person with a pet, offering to pet sit or take their dog on a walk may be more helpful than you may have initially thought!