Elderly people are a vital source of wisdom, experience, and living history. Unfortunately, they can also be an overlooked and underserved part of our society. For some senior citizens living in assisted living facilities, on their own, or facing mental and physical challenges, it can be a lonely existence. This is where dogs come in.
Dogs can provide relief for many issues facing the older population. Here are some ways that dogs can help seniors, seniors can help dogs, and you can help dogs help seniors!
Contact with a pet can alleviate depression, loneliness, and isolation. For people who’ve lost their spouse, or whose grown children have moved away, a dog can be a great source of friendship and companionship.
2. Relief for mental conditions
Dogs can help relieve the stresses of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Dementia patients experience bouts of agitation, and pups can help calm them down. Interacting with a dog can stimulate the appetite of folks who might otherwise not eat regularly as a result of these conditions.
3. Staying active
Walking or playing with a dog is a great source of exercise. Petting a dog can help work out arthritic hands and arms.
4. Sharpening the mind
Dogs are a source of mental stimulation. Whether reading about breeds and pet care, or talking to others about dogs, elderly minds can benefit.
Being with a dog can help reduce cortisol (a stress hormone), and help boost levels of the serotonin (the happy hormone.) Dogs seem to have an instinct for when sad or frightened people need to be comforted. For seniors facing fears of the future or surgery, a pup can help someone stay in the moment.
6. Heart health
The American Heart Association released a study showing that owning or interacting with dogs can help prevent heart disease!
7. As Volunteers
Did you know that you can train your dog to be a therapy dog for nursing homes? It’s possible to get your dog registered to visit assisted living long term care facilities. Or you can reach out to an elderly person in your life and bring your pup around. They’ll appreciate your visit, and your dog can be a great conversation-starter.
Elderly people are a vulnerable target for crime like burglary. A dog may help repel potential home invasions. Even if your a isn’t big, their barking can deter a robber.
9. Planning ahead
Another way to help an elderly friend or relative is to plan for the future. In the event that a pup outlives their human, there are steps to ensure that the dog will be cared for.
Even in a communal living situation, seniors may feel isolated. Caring for a dog can be a social activity, and help lonely folks make friends and find activity partners.
11. Senior pups for senior citizens
Elderly people can provide loving homes for rescue pups, especially senior dogs. A older person might relate to a senior dog– plus, these dogs have less expendable energy and training requirements than puppies.