Loneliness is one of the most difficult and unexpected aspects of old age for many people who find that having more time on their hands and fewer responsibilities to manage is not the bliss they once anticipated.
Retirement, poor mobility and limited finances are just a few examples of factors that can contribute to social isolation, a decrease in quality of life and the onset of loneliness.
Once this dreaded feeling sets in, it can be very difficult to overcome and can lead to a whole host of physical and emotional health issues. Loneliness and isolation have become something of an epidemic for our aging population in the UK over recent years, but the good news is that for many people, pets can provide a wonderful solution to overcome this growing problem.
Unconditional Love & Companionship
In return for our care, most types of pets offer us affection, companionship and unconditional love in return, accepting us without judgement. Love is a crucial health tonic, it boosts self-esteem and makes us feel wanted and needed. A nuzzle or a cuddle from a furry friend can help to overcome the pain of loneliness and adds a very special warmth to the home environment.
Sense Of Responsibility
Pets give many older people a sense of purpose that was lacking before and the responsibility of pet ownership can reduce apathy, encouraging people to become more physically active, by increasing their engagement with daily activities.
Playing with them, grooming, walking and feeding pets creates a constant nurturing role for the elderly person and can help to add structure to the day. This sense of responsibility can have a knock on effect, increasing a person’s attentiveness to his or her own care needs.
A pet in the home boosts motivation to get up and about and in some cases can help to get elderly people out of the house and exercising more regularly.
Pets Enhance Our Lives With Amusement & Laughter
Pets of all kinds are able to divert their owners minds from negative thoughts and sadness, by making them laugh with their amusing antics and creating a wonderful source of entertainment. This is by no means limited to cats and dogs, both of which can be most comical at times. Chickens for example can be hilarious to watch and many enjoy a little pampering and a cuddle when the mood takes them!
The comforting presence of an affectionate pet can do wonders for high blood pressure. Studies have proven that the interaction of stroking a pet or listening to a contented purr can significantly reduce blood pressure. This increases our sense of well being, promotes health and in many cases can help to prolong life.
Sense Of Security
Having a pet in the home can increase a person’s sense of security, particularly if they are living alone. The pet does not need to be a guard dog to provide this feeling of safety. Often it is simply the companionship of a pet that can reduce feelings of anxiety and promote a sense of security.
Enhanced Social Opportunities
Pets are capable of enhancing our social opportunities as they can help to break the ice and make it easier to make friends with people. Dogs can be a particularly great way to help us to increase our interaction with others and reduce social isolation by motivating us to get out into the community for regular walks.
The Right Pet Can Be A Very Special Gift For An Elderly Person
Pets can enrich our days at any stage of life, providing mental stimulation, making us feel positive and optimistic and protecting us from the perils of loneliness and social isolation.
It is of course crucial to choose a pet wisely, as some are far more demanding than others and it is essential to make sure that a pet is a good match in terms of the physical demands that will be involved as well as the costs associated with ownership.
As well as the obvious choice of a cat or dog, both of which can offer great joy and a highly rewarding relationship, it is well worth considering other alternatives, such as feathered or aquatic friends. These types of pet can also bring their own unique ray of sunshine into the life of a lonely elderly person and brighten up even the greyest of days simply by being there for their owner when they need that simplest of things in life – companionship.
Our carers see their role as not just supporting our clients but also providing companionship and friendship. Find out more about our services and what we can offer.