Article Points Out Benefits of Pet Ownership for Elderly, 2010

On the Vet Blog with Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM

Several years ago I saw an elderly man walking his dog. Actually, it looked more like the Cocker Spaniel was walking the man.
The gentleman’s scoliosis was so severe that his back bent at a full 90 degrees. He hobbled along at an amazingly slow pace. The dog took a few steps and then waited patiently for the man to catch up. I’m sure they only went a block or two each day.
But one thing seemed clear to me: the dog was the only reason that man was getting any exercise at all.
Countless studies have shed light on the health benefits that humans derive from their animal companions. An article published summarized some of the benefits for the group of people with the most fragile health of all: senior citizens.
From the article:
(Texas A & M School of Veterinary Medicine staff member Kit) Darling explained that pets provide companionship, decrease loneliness, accept you as you are and provide a sense of being needed. Pets can give the elderly a different outlook because they live in the moment and help seniors do likewise. They can bring laughter into one’s life and increase socialization.
When walking the dog you meet other people in the neighborhood and this encourages conversation. Additionally, recent studies have indicated that positive interaction with pets helps seniors overcome depression and lowers blood pressure/cholesterol levels.