By Beth Pinyerd
We remember Patti Page’s song, “How Much Is That Doggie in The Window?”
How much is that doggie in the window? The one with the waggly tail. How much is that doggie in the window? I do hope that doggie’s for sale.” This sings the heart desires of both the young and old.
The month of February is “Responsible Pet Owners’ Month.” Pets make people happy. They make people smile!
We all like to pet a dog, stroke a cat, or take time with a cute little puppy or kitten. From cute, furry little animals to looking at an aquarium with fish gracefully swimming around, pets are just fun!
Previously, I served as a volunteer in a retirement village in Spanish Fort. I would love to hear the residents whom I served on a daily basis talk to the parrots that occupied bird cages in our hallways.
Pets provide great health benefits to the elderly. I have taken the time to observe and talk to the residents I served on how pets made them feel as well as medical experts on the health benefits that pets provide.
Following my husband’s passing, the director of the facility I served at brought one of her precious little rescue dogs named Cookie. She has truly helped me so much this past year as I have healed and has become my best friend! Read below for other benefits that pets can provide for their owners.
- Pets Help Us Interact With Other People.
Walking or carrying a pet is a natural conversation starter. Whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit, or other animal, pets provide a conversation starter. During an evening event with senior adults, the residents director would shared her cute hedgehogs with the residents to hold, pet and learn more about. Sharing her pets was a conversation and interaction starter among the residents in getting to know each other.
- Pets provide companionship and company.
Man was not meant or made to live alone. Companionship prevents sickness, while isolation can cause loneliness, leading to depression in many cases. Taking care of a living animal, whether it be dogs, cats, fish, etc., encourages one to emotionally feel needed and wanted. It gives one a purpose. We senior adults as well as children can benefit so much from taking care of a pet.
- Taking Care of a pet adds schedule, routine, and structure to a day.
Pets do require regular feedings. Health requirements of pets need to be met too. Dogs require a consistent schedule of exercise. Having a consistent routine of exercise not only keeps your dog calm and balanced, but keeps us calm, balanced and less anxious. This is important for us as we age.
- Having a pet decreases anxiety, provides sensory, stress relief.
Touch and movement are natural ways to manage stress. In early childhood education, we teachers learn that young children need movement, hugs and pats on the back for encouragement in order to feel secure and stay calm. The same is true as we age. Stroking a dog, cat, or other pets helps us to feel calmer and less stressed. Being less stressed lowers blood pressure.
- Taking care of pets boost energy and vitality.
I love to watch my senior friends engage in playfulness, exercise, and happiness with their pets. This increases energy for the elderly person even if they are sitting down or in a wheelchair. The simple acts of pet-petting, cleaning, brushing, and feeding pets provide mild activity which leads to more energy and a better mood. If a senior adult is mobile, walking a dog provides immeasurable benefits of cardiovascular exercise.
- Having a pet can increase confidence and self esteem.
The elderly years can be a lonely time of life. The unconditional love of a dog, cat, parrot and other pets can stimulate us mentally and renew an interest in living life to the fullest in our elderly years.
Pinyerd has taught young children in the Early Childhood Classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in the Opelika Community and Baldwin County Community. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Child Development both from Auburn University. and events by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.