There is something special seeing your dog with his tail wagging when you walk through the door after a long difficult day.
For some reason, it makes you immediately forget about your challenging day. Well, the same applies to our older adults. By owning a dog, experiencing that relentless joy from a potential pet is good for the soul.
October is adopt a dog month, so there is not a better time to go to your local shelter and pick out a new friend who can't wait to be a part of a loving home. The American Humane Society has been celebrating Adopt a Dog Month since 1981, and want us to know that for those interested in a four legged friend, that there are three million dogs in shelters waiting for adoption.
For years, we have known dogs to be “Man's Best Friend”. That phrase didn't happen by accident. It was earned from their unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship.
There are many good reasons why our older adults should own a pet, but my favorite three are:
Exercise and Activity- Sometimes that relentless tail wag means they are ready to play or go for a walk By walking, it forces the owner to have a healthy heart. A Mayo Clinic study reports walking improves cardiovascular health and lowers blood pressure. 17 million people die annually across the globe from cardiovascular disease and daily exercise can help prevent those challenges.
Companionship- One of the major challenges our older Americans experience is isolation. Many of our seniors live alone and being isolated is unhealthy. According to Sheldon Cohen, a Carnegie Mellon psychology professor, loneliness causes stress and can impair the immune system in as little as one month. Additionally, scientists indicate the lack of companionship can result in cognitive decline.
Brain Stimulation- There is no doubt that owning a dog is a win-win situation. It requires the owner to take responsibility and have a consistent routine which is great for older adults. Now, they must prepare to feed, entertain, and walk their dog. Having the responsibility to care for a dog will help prevent loneliness and depression. Additionally, by taking q pet for a walk, occasional interaction with neighbors helps with social connections that improve mental health.
The health experts understand the importance of having a pet in the lives of our older population. Even if it is just for 15 minutes at a time, pet therapy provides comfort and enjoyment for those living in long-term care communities, nursing homes, and hospitals. Animals have a way of reducing pain and anxiety for those receiving treatment.
With October being Adopt-A-Dog Month, this is the perfect time to bring some joy, love and laughter into your home. All you need to provide are food, fun and friendship. With these ingredients, you will be the perfect match and have a friend for life.