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February 01, 2013

Furry Friends: Pets Can Provide Comfort to Older Adults

'The way your dog cocks his head when he looks at you always makes you smile. The way your cat snuggles into your lap when you’'re reading makes you feel warm and cozy. Our pets enrich our lives, offering unconditional love, comfort, and company. The bond between pet and owner often seems to grow stronger with age, conferring special benefits to pet owners. 

Pet Power

Research on the benefits of pet ownership has found that: 

  • Pet owners may experience enhanced feelings of well-being and self-esteem.
  • Owning a pet may help owners feel safer and more self-confident about living independently.
  • Pet ownership can encourage a greater level of daily exercise. Dog owners in particular are more likely to take their pets for daily walks.
  • The companionship pets offer can help combat feelings of loneliness and depression.
  • In times of stress, many pet owners find comfort in their pets. Stroking the soft fur of a pet may decrease stressful feelings, and, according to Medical News Today, can even lower blood pressure.
  • Curious and engaging, pets can serve as a social bridge for meeting people and making friends. 

Healing Paws

The positive influence of animal therapy is well recognized. If you watched news reports of the Sandy Hook shooting, you may have seen the therapy dogs brought in to comfort the children both immediately after the tragedy and when the children returned to school. When children have difficulty expressing their feelings, they are often able to connect with animals and gain comfort from that connection. 

We adults are not so different. Hospitals have begun to recognize the healing power of pets. Therapy dogs are regular visitors at hospitals today, and a growing number of hospitals now allow family pets to visit patients. 

Many Kendal at Oberlin residents bring their pets with them when they move in.

Being able to bring your best friend with you is one of the many things that make Kendal at Oberlin special, among many other things! And to learn more about Kendal at Home members and their pets, check out Mim’'s story here

Photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc


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