Having an Emotional Support Animal Can Make a Huge Difference to Seniors

It is common for seniors to experience deterioration in their mental and physical abilities as they age, making it harder for them to participate in activities they enjoy. The loss of a spouse, close friends, or other loved ones can increase the feeling of loneliness and lack of interest in daily life.

An emotional support animal can help seniors cope with some of the negative aspects of older age. Similar to service animals, emotional support animals can be trained to help their owners with certain conditions, such as anxiety, PTSD, and mental disabilities. Dogs tend to be the most popular type of emotional support animal because they are easily trained for different tasks and have agreeable and affectionate natures.

Even if a dog or other animal is not specifically trained as an emotional support animal, it can still benefit a senior. Here are some ways an emotional support animal or pet can help.

Creation of New Bonds

Creating new connections and building bonds with others is vital for a healthy social life. Connecting and bonding with a new pet can help seniors keep their mental and social skills sharp. This can be especially helpful if they have lost a spouse and are living alone.

Better Health

It has been proven that loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress. Feelings of loneliness have also been shown to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to health conditions such as high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, high blood sugar levels, and even heart attacks.

The companionship of a pet helps increase the feel-good hormone serotonin, which decreases the risk of these health conditions. Some animals are especially helpful in this area. For example, Labrador retrievers and Golden retrievers are known to read their owners’ moods and try to console them.

Walking a dog or taking it to a dog park allows the senior to meet and mingle with other people, leading to more social interaction and the potential for new friendships. This can lead to further decreased cortisol production and increased serotonin production.

Forming a New Routine

After retiring, some seniors struggle to stay active and engaged, especially if they have lost a spouse. They can easily fall into a bland routine that offers little stimulation. A companion pet will allow the senior to create a new habit and more varied routine. The pet may require feeding, washing, grooming, and walking. Caring for and interacting with a pet helps offers meaningful physical and mental motivation.

Physical Exercise

Dogs, more than other household pets, need to be walked daily. Exercise, like walking, stimulates our immune systems and helps our bodies get rid of excess cholesterol and sugar. Walking also helps maintain bone and joint health, which can be especially helpful for seniors.

New Meaning to Life

A lot of time and energy during our adult lives focuses on caring for children or managing work-related needs. After children have left home and a person has retired, they may feel that a lot of meaning has drained away from their life. Having a pet to care for brings a new significance to life.

If you know of a senior who is living alone, they may benefit from the companionship of an emotional support animal or a pet. You can do a Google search for local resources for finding and training emotional support animals. If the senior doesn’t need an emotional support animal but could use the companionship of a pet, you can look for ways to adopt locally.

Our law firm is dedicated to keeping you informed of issues that affect seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care. For assistance, please contact our office today at (954) 315-1169 to schedule a consultation.

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