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.