Sometimes, as we grow older, there can be a lot of nagging conditions and symptoms that make each day a bit of a challenge. It’s not that difficult to start feeling a little overwhelmed and isolated when the world seems to go on without us. Illness can be depressing and for many it can cause feelings of loneliness. Sometimes it’s just not possible to get out and about every day to try and connect with other people.
This is especially true for those who live in a part of the country where winter lasts four months or more of the year. Colder temperatures, snow and especially ice can all keep seniors “house-bound.” And being stuck indoors with various aches and pains can cause you to focus too much attention on health problems and worries. But did you know that there’s a remedy for this difficult situation? It’s simple, and safe, and has no medical side effects.
Pet therapy is a relatively new approach to addressing mental and physical health problems. In a world that values pharmaceutical drugs and the medication of symptoms, it’s taken a little while for pet therapy to be taken seriously. But research now shows all kinds of conclusive evidence that contact with pets could heal and soothe physical complaints. Heart attack victims who have pets could live longer. Apparently, even watching a tank full of tropical fish may help lower your blood pressure, at least temporarily. Bringing a pet into a nursing home could improve people’s moods and desire and ability to interact socially. Dog owners apparently require less medical care than non-dog owners.
Researchers at the University of Wales College of Medicine studied the effects of pet therapy on 92 patients recovering from heart problems. The patients were all hospitalized in coronary care units for angina or heart attack. Patients were asked to fill out questionnaires and were followed for a year. The researchers found that only six percent of patients who owned pets died within one year, compared with 28% of those who did not own pets!
In another study based in Colorado, seniors aged 60 and above were recruited. Each senior was asked to fill out a questionnaire. Physiological and biochemical tests were also performed. The researchers looked for links that showed that pet ownership leads to better self-care, including eating habits, exercise, nutritional status, and better cardiovascular health. The researchers found that dog owners walked significantly longer than non-dog-owners. Pet owners also had significantly lower triglycerides than non-owners. The researchers concluded that pets are good for your health.
If you are considering boosting your health by having a pet around, that’s great! Having a companion who will give you unconditional love and lots of attention can be wonderful. Bear in mind, however, that you need to choose a pet that’s right for you and your circumstances.