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Pets And The Elderly

Pets for the elderly: a four-legged solution to an age-old problem

As repositories of wisdom and experience, older Australians truly are a national treasure. So it’s no surprise that families, friends and doctors alike are concerned about the myriad of illnesses threatening our elders. The good news is there’s a treatment that is proven to increase physical and mental health, and even delay the aging process. Best of all, it’s completely drug-free, and available right now at your local pet shelter.Pets For The Elderly

Animal companions – whether they are dogs, cats, birds, mice, or even lizards – are closely linked with increased quality of life. Here are some of the many ways a pet can benefit your cherished grandparent or aging friend.


Loneliness is recognized as a major problem affecting senior Australians throughout the country. But it’s impossible to feel lonely in the presence of a wagging tail, a cheery chirp, or a comforting purr. Pets not only provide reliable company, but they also strengthen relationships with other humans by acting as a social lubricant, handy conversation topic, and incentive for grandchildren to visit. Did you know 81% of pet owners say they never feel alone? []

Physical health

A four-legged friend is good for the heart – literally! Pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and therefore a reduced risk of heart attacks. As an added bonus, pet dogs increase activity levels and fitness. With cardiac disease being the leading causes of death in Australians, a pup could be pivotal in prolonging Pop’s pep.

Mental health

One in ten elderly Australians suffer from mental illness. In aged-care facilities, this proportion skyrockets to one in three. Luckily, critter companionship reduces stress, guards against depression, and increases resilience to grief. Pensioners with pets also benefit from increased enthusiasm, positivity and mental functioning.

Disability support

You may have heard of guide dogs for the blind, and hearing dogs for the deaf. But did you know that animals can provide assistance for a much wider range of disabilities? With training, dogs can detect low blood sugar, warn about oncoming seizures, and even fetch food and drink for movement-impaired folk.

Dog allergies? Then you might consider a seeing-eye miniature horse, a hearing goat or a seizure-sensing cat. Even mice and birds can be taught to fetch medication for their owners. With over half of older Australians suffering from a disability, the support of a trained pet can be invaluable.

General health

Even minor illnesses and injuries are drastically improved by animal companionship. Dog and cat owners spend less time in doctor’s offices and hospitals. Pets may benefit the grandchildren as well, as regular dog exposure strengthens the immune system and reduces allergies in children.

With such a diverse range of pet breeds and personalities, there’s sure to be something to suit every senior citizen. A gregarious grandmother will get on great with a golden retriever, while a calm rag doll cat will be content to remain confined to a cottage with their companion. Communal pets are a great solution for folk unable to care full-time for a furry friend.

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