The Many Benefits of Pet Ownership for Older Adults

Image of an older adult with a kitten, both of whom are reaping the benefits of pet ownership.If you are a pet lover, you’ll most likely be one all of your life. Those who have owned pets know just how rewarding having a furry friend can be, and how pets quickly become members of our families.

People derive many emotional benefits from owning a pet, even more so as older adults. In this post, we’ll examine some of the best reasons why you should consider having a cat or dog (or other pet) around in retirement.

Companionship

Even if you’re an introvert, everyone needs socialization in their lives, lest we feel lonely and isolated. Though your cat or dog can’t “talk,” they are more than capable of providing friendship and loyalty. Just like humans, domestic pets have unique personalities, skills, and habits that you can treasure and enjoy.

Exercise

For most of us, the most enjoyable form of exercise is the one that doesn’t actually feel like exercise. Going on a leisurely stroll outside with your dog each day is a great way to get moving and feels completely different mentally than tracking your time on the treadmill. It’s fantastic for your dog’s health, and yours! You can exercise with a cat as well by engaging in high-energy play throughout the day.

Sense of Purpose

Being a caretaker is a big responsibility that can provide a meaningful significance in our lives. Knowing your pet depends on you for their well-being, happiness, and health is a great motivator to keep active and positive. Everyone deserves to feel needed and appreciated.

Stress Relief

Did you know that scientific research tells us that holding or petting an animal is an effective form of stress relief? Specifically, it lowers blood pressure and reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol production is the leading cause of physiological stress and anxiety. What better way to achieve serenity than to snuggle with a soft and cuddly companion?

Safety & Comfort

If you’ve grown accustomed to living with a spouse or partner, it can be challenging to maintain that sense of security after they’re gone. Though having a pet cannot replace your loved one, it can help you feel safer at night or when you’re alone. Dogs also serve as excellent deterrents for burglars if home safety is a concern for you when you’re out. Even tiny dogs sound intimidating when barking behind a closed door!

Routine

Having some things to do each day provides stability and structure from which nearly everyone benefits. Incidentally, pets best behave when they have a routine and boundaries, too. Keeping even a loose daily regimen with your pet will provide the foundation you both need to find comfort in your home life and free up your brain for more exciting activities.

New Friends & Interests

Having a pet is a hobby that you can share with others if you choose to view it as such. You may see the same people walking their pets each day, or run into familiar faces at the dog park or groomer. These days, there are groups that exist solely to participate in pet-centric activities and excursions. So if you feel like you’d like to expand your friendship circle, hop online and see if others are nearby who want to plan a pug playdate or a mastiff meetup.

In summary, life is better with friends. If you feel something is missing in your life, or you’d like it to be sweeter, consider adopting a pet today. You’ll be doing yourself and your companion a world of good!

To learn more about retirement living at Touchmark, visit our website or Facebook.

Fun, Adventure, and Involvement—The Perfect Recipe for Active Aging

Image of Marion Travis, Touchmark residentWhen Marion Travis, 62, decided to move to Touchmark at Wedgewood almost two years ago, she was looking for peace of mind and a sense of community. “There are less worries here. If I need something, there’s someone who can help, and there’s always someone new to meet and talk to.”

Choosing a community in a familiar part of the city and close to her three children was also a huge benefit for Marion, especially after her husband Wesley passed away. “There’s no point in being sad. I want to keep busy and try to keep moving.”

Originally from England and interested in traveling abroad, Marion worked temporarily as a nanny. This adventure led her to Alberta, Canada, where she met her husband of 35 years. They made their home in Edmonton’s west end to be near Wesley’s family. Marion then went to work as a Radiation Therapist at the Cross Cancer Institute until she retired two years ago. Though she has eased into and enjoys the relaxation of retired life, she makes sure she remains active every day.

“I take my 12-year-old-dog Kodi on long walks twice a day. I also just set up my Bowflex® gym and elliptical in my basement so I can improve my cardio and fight joint stiffness—three times a week.”

Marion also still enjoys golfing once a week, a pastime she and Wesley used to enjoy together. “I am part of a golf league at the Stony Plain Golf Course, and I’m looking forward to participating in this year’s Touchmark Golf Tournament. Golf is like gambling. There’s just that one good shot that keeps bringing me back each time.”

During the winter months, Marion heads south to her second home in Arizona, where she has recently taken up tennis. “My sister-in-law got me into the sport. It’s fun to hit the ball around, but honestly sometimes we have more fun talking than we do playing,” she laughs.

While physical activity is an integral part of Marion’s lifestyle, keeping fit mentally is equally vital to her routine. “It’s important to keep your mind healthy and active. I love trivia and games, and I volunteer in the Touchmark store and every Wednesday as a caller for bingo. I also sing in the Touchmark Glee Club as an alto-soprano, though it really depends on the key as to which way I go.”

Marion is also enjoying some of the new experiences her new community has to offer. For example, at a recent creative workshop, she made a terrarium, and she volunteers as a porter when residents living in the long-term care neighborhood go shopping.

“I don’t want to be a couch potato,” exclaims Marion.

Her top tips for active aging? “Find something that you enjoy. Find something that gets you out. And find something that gets you socializing.”