Studies indicate that over 50% of older adults are pet owners. Pets provide their senior companions, like Polly, with many physical and psychological health benefits.
Here’s a deeper dive into a few of the advantages of pet ownership for older adults:
- Pets make great companions. Pets help combat loneliness and isolation by providing social support and companionship. Research has found that older pet owners are 36% less likely to report loneliness than non-pet owners.
- Pets give us a sense of purpose. Caring for another living being helps us feel needed. Plus, it gives our lives structure and routine, which lead to feelings of safety and stability.
- Pets help improve our health. Owning a pet is shown to improve cardiovascular health, decrease blood pressure, and even delay aging of the brain. Pets help us stay physically active, with dog owners walking an average of 22 minutes more per day than non-dog owners, according to a recent study.
- Pets reduce stress. It’s been scientifically proven that interacting with animals decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases oxytocin (the feel-good hormone). In fact, the AARP reports that 79% of pet owners report having reduced stress.
- Pets help us stay social. Not only is walking your dog good for your health, but it also encourages you to get to know your neighbors and other animal lovers in your community. Plus, owning pets of all kinds is a great conversation starter when meeting a new person.
If you are senior looking to reap the benefits of pet ownership, I want to remind you to join us from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 12, as we partner with AARP California for “PawsConnect: Matching Older Paws with Older People.” At this adoption event, fees will be waived for anyone adopting any available pet at Pasadena Humane.
Older pets often make great companions for older people since they tend to have less strenuous exercise needs and may already have good house manners. But finding a pet that fits your unique lifestyle is important. So, if you are active and want an exercise buddy, a younger pup might be a better choice. Our adoption counselors work with each adopter to find a good match.
Don’t assume that a move to a retirement community will mean you must give up your pet. In recognition of the benefits of the human-animal bond — especially for older adults — pet-friendly is becoming the norm in many senior housing communities. If pets are important to you, seek out communities that cater to pets with amenities such as dog parks.
Your golden years will be brighter with the affection, purpose, and unconditional love a pet can bring to your life.
To view pets available for adoption, please visit our website and come to Pasadena Humane from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 12 to adopt with no fees, thanks to the support of AARP California.
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on November 11, 2022.