Pets are cute and cuddly, but they can also offer mental and physical health benefits throughout your life. They can make you feel happier and even cut your risks of some health issues. Hickory Villa in Omaha welcomes pets, so you can enjoy all the benefits of being a pet owner along with the other wellness services and lifestyle amenities of the community. Explore some of the benefits of pet ownership below if you're considering a furry addition to your family.
A furry companion encourages you to get up and stay active, which helps increase your physical activity throughout the day. Walking a dog, playing with a cat or even just getting up to fill food bowls and clean the litter box give you little ways to move more throughout the day. Physical activity can boost your energy, improve balance, strengthen muscles, improve your mood and prevent or delay some diseases and health conditions.
As people age, loneliness becomes a concern, with 43% of seniors regularly feeling lonely and a 45% increase in mortality risk in those who do. Pets are built-in companions that can help you feel less lonely. Dogs, in particular, tend to cling to their owners and make it nearly impossible to feel alone. Unlike visits from friends and family that eventually end, your pet is always with you. Many pets travel well, which means you can take them with you, even when you go on trips or visit family.
For many people, pets are a stress reliever. They might add more responsibilities to your day, but they bring happiness and laughs along with a boost in serotonin. This is the hormone that helps you feel good and eases stress. The physical act of petting and cuddling with a furry companion can also reduce stress and help you feel less anxious. Keeping your stress levels under control can improve your health by lowering your risk for high blood pressure, depression and obesity. Reduced stress levels can also help you sleep better, improve your mood and reduce your chances of getting sick.
Having a pet can give you opportunities for social interactions. Taking your dog for a walk to nearby Elmwood Park might give you the chance to meet fellow dog owners or people who want to give your pooch a pet. If walking your dog is challenging for you, Hickory Villa offers referrals for dog walkers, which gives you another opportunity for social interactions while ensuring your furry friend gets adequate exercise. Visits to the vet or appointments with the groomer give you social interactions with the staff — all of which can help you feel connected and boost your mood.
Pets rely on certain routines, like dining on their favorite kibble at a certain time, having daily playtime or going on a walk before dinner. Even if you don't follow a rigid schedule with your pet, you still have certain regular care tasks you need to do for them. Your routines with your pet can encourage you to get up and move when you might otherwise stay in bed. You can also coordinate the care tasks for your pet with your own needs. You might make your breakfast after serving your pet their meal, or you might use your dog's daily walk as a reminder to take your medication.
If you choose a dog to be your companion, you might also feel more secure. Barking often scares away would-be intruders, and having a dog to stand guard can make you feel safer. You don't need a huge breed that traditionally serves as a guard dog. Any barking can be a deterrent. Even if you choose a community like Hickory Villa, it can be comforting to have your pet with you to feel more secure.
Some animals go beyond simply being a pet. Emotional support animals or service dogs provide extra support to individuals with specific needs. An emotional support animal can help ease anxiety or support an owner who is recovering from some type of trauma.
Service dogs undergo special training to do a certain type of work or task for someone who has a disability. Some examples include:
These specially trained dogs can improve quality of life and allow more independence for people who have disabilities.
The physical and mental benefits of having a pet can improve a senior's life in many ways. When choosing a pet, consider the amount of care the pet will need and what type of pet is best. For example, someone who can't walk a dog regularly might prefer a cat. A smaller dog is often easier to manage than a large, strong dog. Finding the perfect pet companion can take time, but it can help seniors feel happier and be physically healthier.