From dogs to birds, to bearded dragons, people at Loretto love their pets. For many, these animals are more than just pets, they are companions, and having one can improve a person’s overall sense of well-being. For seniors, having a pet can bring benefits such as reduced loneliness, increased confidence, reduced stress, and even pain relief.
According to the 2018 University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, 79% of pet owners aged 50-80 reported that their stress levels were reduced as a result of owning a pet.
Shannon Loughlin, Director of Life Enrichment & Recreation at The Nottingham, agrees. Loughlin has seen how having pets helps residents live fulfilling lifestyles, “For the ones who have pets, it’s so beneficial. It’s something to talk about, it’s somebody to converse with. It’s company.” Pets are great at keeping residents company and creating more opportunities for socialization with other residents.
Not only does having pets improve the mental health of residents, but more than 60% of owners age 50-80 in the national poll on Healthy Aging reported it also helps them to stick to a routine. Loughlin said: “Individuals who have dogs, they’re on a schedule, they’re on a routine, so it helps them kind of maintain structure throughout their day.” People with pets have the added responsibility of caring for them, taking them on walks, and feeding them, which keeps people active.
Pets can even help those with Dementia to manage their symptoms. Loughlin has witnessed this firsthand with one resident in memory care. One gentleman has a pet bird that he takes care of with the help of his daughter. Loughlin explained: “Just having that familiarity, that he’s comfortable with, and having something to nurture and to take care of. He may be losing some part of his memory, but this is something that he seems to be retaining.”
For those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, pets can also help with symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and agitation.
While there are certainly many benefits to owning a pet, it’s important to ensure you will be able to care for a pet with or without assistance from family. If not, pet therapy can be a great option which Loretto provides at various facilities. Pet therapy is perfect for residents who want to be around animals without the added responsibility.
You should always be sure to check the requirements and regulations of your residence before adopting a pet. Whether you’re a pet owner or not, Loretto is a pet-friendly campus where you’ll find many opportunities to spot a furry friend.