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10 Ways That Caring for a Pet Benefits Older Adults

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When people get older, their needs change, and they might consider owning a pet to enrich their lives. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the wonderful benefits that a pet can bring older people. These benefits apply whether or not you live in a senior living community in Macomb. There are several benefits that you may not know about. If you are not yet sure if having a pet is the right move for you, some of the items on this list might change your mind.

1.) Friendship

We all know that pets make loyal friends. For older people especially, loneliness can creep in as family members pass away or become more distant over time. The senior might also drift apart from their family members. Having a pet who is always there near them can help alleviate some inevitable loneliness. Pet’s are very good at fulfilling this need and role.

2.) Therapeutic

Pet’s have often been used for therapeutic purposes in helping people openly discuss their problems, mitigate depression, or just have a friend to talk to. A dog can be a welcoming presence in an otherwise lonely home for seniors. The feeling of communication that pets enable can do wonders for mental health. While the pet cannot talk, the senior can still talk to their pet, and the pet can communicate through body language. There is much therapeutic potential in just that, and it’s always better than talking to someone who isn’t there.

3.) Stay Occupied

Keeping a pet will entail some daily responsibilities for a senior. For example, they will need to keep food and water for the pet and play with it when it’s bored. The pet might also require grooming or cleaning. All of these things can help a senior relieve boredom, keep active, have a sense of purpose, and stay occupied.

4.) Activity and Stimulation

Playtime is usually required for larger animals like cats and dogs. Not only does this relieve boredom for the pets (and the owner, too), but it also allows them to get some much-needed exercise. Exercise is even more important for larger breeds. The owner can jog along with dogs; cats can use toys made especially for cats. A senior can stay more active with pets, even just handling small tasks like keeping their pet fed. This is a good activity for seniors since it is stimulating enough to keep them in good health.

5.) Stress Relief

A well-trained pet can help relieve stress naturally. Most pet owners will release a hormone known as oxytocin when around their pets. When the hormone is released, stress levels are reduced in both the owner and their pet. This hormone is a silent helper that can always be relied on by pets and their owners.

Senior man sitting in a rocking chair with his cat in his lap

6.) Useful Assistants

Pets can be very helpful. They can be trained to recover lost items or retrieve items in difficult-to-reach places. Pets may also let other people nearby know if the owner is in trouble. Dogs can whine, howl, or bark for help, and cats can meow if the owner is in pain or incapacitated. People nearby will know that something is amiss.  

7.) They Will Alert and Protect You

Certain pets can provide protection for their owners. For seniors especially, this can give more peace of mind and a feeling of safety and security. In this case, we’re mostly referring to dogs since their bark can scare off potential intruders, and just their presence alone can deter burglars. But, of course, certain breeds are better candidates as guard dogs and protectors. Also, don’t underestimate birds and cats. They can still be useful since they can be noisy and fierce enough to stave off intruders. They can also make enough noise to alert neighbors if the owner is in trouble. Larger birds like geese can even fight back on their own.

8.) Weight Loss

Thanks to the increased activity of owning a pet, many new pet owners start to experience weight loss (in a healthy way) or reduce other weight-related problems. This kind of active lifestyle from pet ownership can help the body in many ways, increase lifespan, and bring more joy into life itself.

9.) A Healthier Schedule

It’s always good for a senior to be in a routine. It allows for more order and stability in life. But, if a senior doesn’t do many activities each day, they might become sluggish and slow. Their thinking might slow down as well since their mental capacity can diminish. That’s because if you don’t use your brain often enough, it will begin to get weaker. So, there is a clear benefit of pet ownership for seniors. They will get used to doing more activities each day, adhering to a schedule for the sake of their pet, and in the process, creating stability and a healthy physical and mental routine. That kind of routine can go a long way to preserving sanity for many folks, which is why it’s a key benefit of pets for seniors.

10.) More Outdoor Exposure

Seniors who own pets are usually more active than seniors who don’t own pets. The reason is that owning a pet requires you to take them out for fresh air, maybe take them on a walk, or perhaps bring your pet with you to a friend’s house. These simple things are meaningful because they give them something to do with their time. In addition, seniors who own pets will visit more places, discover new places, and get more enjoyment and fulfillment out of life in general.


As you can see, there are plenty of reasons for a senior to want to own a pet, whether at home or in a senior living community. However, keep in mind that senior living communities have different requirements. For example, some allow dogs, some don’t allow certain breeds or sizes, so be sure to do your research.

Parkdale is a pet-friendly senior living community in Macomb. For more information about our pets policy or if you have other questions, get in touch with us on our website today!

Written by The Parkdale

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