Pets in retirement
Throughout history dogs have been considered man’s best friend. But studies show they really could be the best thing to happen to us, especially as we age. As well as enriching our lives, pets can actually make us physically and mentally healthier. Just the presence of our pets can lift our spirits and help us relax.
A Point Cook Village resident walking their dog in the village grounds
Research has shown that pets are of vital importance to the health and happiness of seniors. Results of a three-year study at the Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne show that pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non pet owners, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Not only is a pet a friend and partner, but pet owners are generally healthier and happier than non-pet owners. They feel less lonely than non-pet owners and are more socially active. Studies have revealed that even just looking at animals can reduce anxiety in times of stress. And it appears that elderly people who own pets also make fewer visits to doctors than those without pets.
Pet ownership means exercise and responsibility. If you own a dog, you’ll be more active than those who don’t have a pet. Sometimes a pet can be the only reason an elderly person feels he or she has to get up in the morning. Dogs especially are great motivators. Whatever the weather, they encourage us to get out and enjoy the outdoors while getting some regular exercise.
Studies have shown that residents in retirement villages with pets are not only more tolerant of others but they smile more and appear more alert than those without pets. Pets are great caregivers and great company. Stroking a pet creates feelings of calmness and affection and can be highly effective in reducing stress. Animals also give us a much-needed natural outlet for touching and animal companionship is a natural remedy for healthy relaxation.
Owning a pet can counter the loneliness sometimes felt by seniors and can help interaction with others.Pet owners suffer from less depression and are able to cope with grief and loss better than non-pet owners.Not only do pets provide something to care for and something with which you can share your life, they can also provides a sense of security and purpose and the need to maintain a regular routine. Taking care of pet necessitates taking care of you.
Owning a pet is an opportunity for both exercise and socialisation. Pet owners find it easier to get to know people. Dogs especially can enhance your social skills. They make great conversation starters and can help introduce us to people in the community, especially other dog owners.
Pets ease the advent of old age by diverting one’s attention away from self and onto the playful antics of a dog or cat. The aches and pains are momentarily forgotten. Pets are a source of ongoing life…they serve as a much needed connection to youth…a pet is the greatest ego booster in the world — they think you're the greatest!
Owning a pet in a retirement community:
Realising the importance of pets to prospective residents, many village operators will allow certain current pets to move toa retirement village with the resident, but most do not allow replacement pets should the current pet pass away.
By contrast, at Retirement Communities Australia’s villages (Point Cook Village and Beleura Village Mornington), they recognise and support the health benefits of pet companions. At these RCA villages, provided the pet behaves appropriately, residents can bring an existing pet with them when they move to the village AND can also replace their pet in the future.