There are many theories about how to maintain health and well-being as we get older. One of the leading ones is to have a pet in our lives.

Numerous studies have shown that a pet can provide comfort, companionship, activity and emotional support for seniors.

55% of Americans age 50 to 80 have pets, according to a 2019 study commissioned by AARP and Michigan Medicare. 

When asked about the benefits of having a pet:

79% mentioned reduced stress.

64% said being more active was a benefit.

62% like the routine of having to care for a pet helped with mood. 

51% said having a pet made them feel safer. 

34% said having a pet took their minds off pain.

In a 2014 survey by AARP, seniors were asked what made them the happiest. 

70% said relationships with others; pets came in a close second, with 66%.

Amy Stone, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida and a veterinarian at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine. Stone said she has “personally observed an increase in mood (less loneliness), a desire to stay in better shape to be able to care for the animal as well as a sense of purpose” by seniors wanting to take care of their pets.

She says having a pet “boosts social engagement, elevates mood, provides a reason to stay in better physical shape and it can be a positive predictor of survival.” 

So, if you’re thinking about getting a pet in later life, consider a rescue shelter; you’ll be saving them, and they’ll be saving you.

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The Donaldson Sisters present important topics and perspectives on the table for open discussion – topics that don’t often get raised in the mainstream media and voices and perspectives less frequently heard. Subscribe to their newsletter here.