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Health Benefits of Pets for Seniors & the Mobility Impaired

November 05, 2012

Major research suggests that companion pets can influence improvements in the well being of older pet owners-including seniors with limited mobility who may need to use power wheelchairs.

The National Institutes of Health, the American Geriatrics Society, the National Stroke Association, and the American Diabetes Association all agree: Pet ownership benefits the health of older Americans. 1
 

Seniors Who Own Pets Are Physically Healthier

While there is still much to learn about the restorative effects of owning a pet, seniors who have pets are statistically happier and healthier than those who do not.

A 1993 study of approximately 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries2 found that compared to non-pet owners of equal age, seniors who owned pets

  • Were better at coping with stressful life events
  • Expressed reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Had fewer health-related complaints
  • Visited their doctors less frequently

 

Having a Pet May Improve Health and Mobility  

In the years following that 1993 study, additional medical evidence seems to support those initial findings. In particular, service dogs assist people with mobility disabilities, improving their lives in many healthy and helpful ways. Even the simple act of petting a cat or dog has been shown to have a beneficial, calming impact on humans.

Other health benefits attributed to pet ownership, include:

  • Lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels
  • Improved circulation; decreased risk for stroke and heart disease
  • More emotional stability (less anxiety, less depression, less irritability)
  • Healthier eating and sleeping patterns
  • Maintenance of mobility-related daily living activities, such as meal preparation, bathing and dressing

See below for a list of available programs that may assist in adopting the right pet. (For an older person, or someone who has mobility limitations and uses a power chair, a mature dog or older cat may be best since they usually have a more relaxed temperament).

Adopt-a-Pet : give a homeless pet a loving home
ASPCA|Pet Adoption : find the right pet for you
Pet Finder : pet adoption resource

 
And, be sure to contact us at Hoveround if ever there is need for personal mobility assistance. Our quality line of power wheelchairs, mobility scooters, lifts, ramps and assorted wheelchair accessories offer several options for regaining your mobility and freedom.

1 Sources Cited:
National Stroke Association: "The Healing Power of Animals"
American Diabetes Association: "Could a Dog Save Your Life?"
National Institutes of Health, News in Health: "Can Pets Help Keep You Healthy?"
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, May 1999 "Pets Help Elderly Stay Active"

2Siegel, J. M. (1993), Companion Animals: In Sickness and in Health. Journal of Social Issues, 49: 157-167. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1993.tb00915.x

 

This article is for information sharing purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Hoveround does not endorse nor guarantee the content of any third-party website provided herein.

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