Animals can bring a smile to many faces, especially elders. In a recent study by the University of Michigan people who owned a pet from ages 50-80 said that their pet helped them to enjoy their overall life.

Researchers at the University polled around 2,000 older adults and found that 55% said that they owned at least one pet. The most common pet was a dog followed by cats and other small animals like birds. No matter the pet people overall said that having one helped their mood, mental health, and physical health.

These pet owners believe that having a little friend gave them a sense of purpose and reduced levels of stress or anxiety. Having to take care of their pet gives them responsibility and helps them to stay active especially as a dog owner. When they were struggling with a physical or emotional health issue their pet helped them cope with it.

Pets are able to provide us emotional support. So many people who suffer from depression, panic attacks, or have anxiety will say that having a pet gives them relief and happiness. In nursing homes a lot of seniors will suffer with loneliness and depression. Having a pet will bring comfort and happiness. Many seniors do not have much mobility or they don’t want to move around. When they have a pet they are forced to move around and be more social. They are able to talk to others about their pet and that gives a lot of seniors a purpose again.

If you are not able to own a pet try arranging a pet therapy visit, volunteering at a shelter, or pet sit for a few hours for someone who does have an animal.

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