Friday, July 20, 2018

Benefits of a Companion Animal

The Importance of Companion Animals 

Most people have spent their lives around animals. They can be marvelous companions and have incredible personalities, and we’re sure you’re aware of how helpful a pet can be if you have ever had an animal as a companion. These little companions are always excited when you are and always seem to know when you are feeling down. They can also be a lot of fun when you decide to go hiking or take a walk. We can only imagine what it must feel like to visit the doctor and have him or her prescribe a companion animal. This happens often for the elderly, as sometimes the doctor feels a furry friend is the perfect solution to certain conditions. Having your own furry companion has psychological benefits like increased activity and decreased anxiety and can have an extremely positive impact on your overall health. An emotional support animal has many wonderful benefits. 

The Impact on Physical Health 

Activity is necessary no matter your age. A dog can encourage you to leave your home more often and move around. A recently published survey regarding elderly persons with companion animals showed 71 percent of participants said that when they are not feeling well physically, they feel better because of their pets. Another study, which focused on survivors of a recent heart incident, revealed the survival rates for coronary disease are higher due to animal companionship. The individuals with pets had a mortality rate a third lower than the people without an animal for companionship. The study stated heart disease takes the lives of one million people every year. This means a service animal for the elderly has the potential to save 30,000 lives every year. 

Studies have also shown that individuals living with an animal have lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure than those living without. After questioning 100 patients with Medicare, researchers found that those with an animal friend used less medicine, went to the doctor 21 percent less and recovered from illnesses and surgery faster than people without a special pet. That’s HUGE savings over a lifetime! Individuals in new nursing homes in Texas, Missouri, and New York saw their medication costs decrease from $3.80 daily to $1.80 each day because the facilities made animals an important part of the living environment. This means money and lives are saved by pets all the time, and a pet could save your life as well. 

The Impact on Mental Health 

From what we have seen, the emotional and mental benefits of having a pet may be even more obvious than the physical. One of the main psychological benefits a service animal provides is helping to eliminate loneliness. When a person lives with a companion animal, he or she never has to spend time alone. A study was conducted and determined that seniors with a pet have far fewer symptoms from psychological and physical diseases and require less medication than people living alone. 

Pets have been proven to reduce depression, as this often occurs due to loneliness. Numerous senior pet owners have stated that without the companionship of a pet such as an emotional support dog, their lives were exceptionally lonely and barren. Even the few downsides to pet ownership do not come close to the many benefits. A psychologist in New York who regularly brings her dog, a beautiful golden retriever named Sadie, to the office states she’s seen Sadie help her patients with their emotional state and memory recall. 

The Most Important Aspects of Adopting an Animal for the Elderly 

There are important considerations involved when adopting a pet for yourself, an elderly relative or a friend. The first should be the mobility of the proposed owner. It is important to know if the person can be active and leave his or her home or if there are limits to daily activities. A dog may be the perfect companion for some, while others will enjoy snuggling with a cat in bed or on the sofa. Another important concern is the age of the potential pet. Many people slow down as they age, so a senior cat or dog could be the perfect companion. There are programs focused on helping families or individuals find the right senior animal to adopt. Regardless of age, every pet owner should take the time to establish a contingency plan in case their pet requires care. One of the best recommendations we’ve heard is for the individual to keep a card on their person, in their home and in their vehicle with specific information regarding the pet. This includes the name, description, medications it might need, where the pet enjoys hiding, emergency contact information and information for the vet. 

Dog Companions 

Dogs make marvelous companions and offer relief for numerous health concerns faced by seniors. Whether you’re living on your own or in an assisted facility, and whether you’re facing physical or mental challenges, your living conditions can potentially lead to loneliness and exile. Dogs are charming, affectionate, eager and playful, and they adapt easily. The relationship between a senior and his or her dog is special. A companion dog will provide necessary companionship, love and friendship and can even be trained to complete tasks to assist the owner. 

Cat Companions 

We have always found cats to be helpful creatures. They are excellent companions for seniors with limited mobility. They are independent, people oriented and entertaining to watch, and they enjoy playing. Both male and female cats tend to be affectionate and provide a lot of adoration. They also have a lot of curiosity regarding their surroundings and love climbing onto their person’s lap to receive both affection and time. 

Bird Companions 

We adore little birds like canaries and zebra finches; they’re both colorful and sweet. They also make excellent companions for seniors living on their own who want a little more noise in the house. Their chirps are soothing and pleasing to listen to. We can imagine relaxing on the sofa and watching them play in their cages. Birds provide seniors with the ability to teach, talk to and nurture little friends. 

Fish Companions 

Fish, with their beautiful colors and smooth swimming motions, help seniors relax. Fish are an excellent pet to help relieve stress, which is accomplished just by watching them swim around an aquarium or a fishbowl. This is why so many hospitals and offices make certain they provide an aquarium in their waiting rooms. The fish are simply soothing. 

There are always considerations to address when bringing a new animal into a home. Examples include keeping the food bowl for the animal within easy reach and reliable transportation to the vet for anyone who does not drive. A companion animal offers incredible benefits regardless of which stage of life you’re in. When a senior has a sweet animal as a companion, he or she is generally both healthier and happier. Animals are amazingly capable of providing all the love, companionship and attention anyone could ever want. We like to think we help our animals as much as they help us. We think the question here is who exactly is rescuing who?

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