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.

Top Outdoor Attractions in Touchmark States

As summer begins drawing to a close, you may feel compelled to spend as much time outside in as many awe-inspiring locations as possible. Always striving to be HELP{FULL}, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most beautiful outdoor attractions within a day’s driving distance of each Touchmark community.

Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park

Image of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park, and just a few hours away from Touchmark at Wedgewood. Every year millions of people travel to Banff to explore the breathtaking mountain scenery, crystal clear lakes, and enchanting forests. The park offers exciting activities all year round, including boat tours, dog sledding, bird watching, golf, museums, and much more. Travelers of all activity ability can find something fun to do at Banff National Park, making it a memorable trip for anyone and everyone.

Bonus: Strap in for an otherworldly adventure atop the largest accumulation of ice south of the Arctic Circle. See a variety of different landmarks and top it off with a ride on the Ice Explorer over the ancient landscape of the Columbia Icefields. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Arizona

Coconino National Forest

Image of Cathedral Rock in the Coconino National Forest.

Known as one of the most diverse National Forests in the country, Coconino offers something for everyone. The geography of the park boasts the famous Sedona red rock peaks and canyons, Ponderosa pine forests, high desert land, and even alpine tundra. Visitors can hike through the forests, wade in lazy creeks, take helicopter tours over red rock formations, or go on white-knuckle, off-road 4×4 rides.

Bonus: Stop by Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona to sign up for one of many exciting ridealong tours, including ancient ruins with hieroglyphs from the Hopi and Sinagua tribes, Mystic Vista and other famous vortex sites, or Coyote Canyons chockfull of native wildlife sightings.

Idaho

Sawtooth National Forest

Image of hot springs in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho.

Covering more than two million acres of land, the Sawtooth National Forest is a beautiful landscape of mountains and valleys. A close neighbor to Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village, the Sawtooth is a fun day trip for any nature lover. The forest is home to four of Idaho’s beautiful scenic highways, which makes sightseeing easy and fun. While there are things to do all year round, Sawtooth is known for its winter activities. Its peaks and valleys make for amazing skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Bonus: If you’ve worked up and appetite, head to Limbert’s at Redfish Lake Lodge for fresh elk and trout entrées.

Montana

Glacier National Park

Image of Perito Moreno Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Located on the northern tip of Montana along the Canadian border, Glacier National Park is the gem of Montana. Glacier has a long, rich Native American history, perfect for the history buff and the outdoor adventurer. Contained within the borders of the park is the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, a largely preserved ecosystem that is almost completely untouched. Visitors will see almost the exact same view that European explorers saw when they first entered the region. The main attractions for outdoor enthusiasts are the many beautiful lakes and waterways within Glacier. Lakeside camping and hiking, kayaking, historical sightseeing, and stargazing are just a few of the breathtaking attractions in the park.

Bonus: Make your way over to Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 52-mile scenic highway through the park which crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. You might catch a glimpse of mountain goats, bears, moose, and other wildlife!

North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Image of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Just two hours away from Touchmark on West Century, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is not only a beautiful sight but also a historic landmark. Before becoming president, Roosevelt fell in love with the rugged terrain and bought two ranches in the surrounding area. After his death, the park was established to celebrate his life and love of the North Dakota landscape. While visiting the park, you can overlook the Painted Canyons, explore Roosevelt’s ranch, or take scenic drives to see the beautiful rock formations and wildlife.

Bonus: Visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and step back into the time of the Wild, Wild West! Learn about real-life cowboys and horses of the past and present, go on a horseback tour, and maybe catch a glimpse of a rough-and-tumble-style wedding.

Sheyenne National Grassland

Coming in at over 70,000 acres of land, the Sheyenne National Grassland is the largest and only National Grassland in the prairie region of the United States. Visitors can participate in many activities, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and sightseeing. Exploring the Grassland will lead you through bubbling creeks, historic bridges, a pioneer cemetery, and an old fire tower.

Bonus: Keep an eye out for the rare Dakota skipper and regal fritillary butterfly, two endangered species present only in North Dakota’s grassland.

Oklahoma

Natural Falls State Park

Image of waterfalls in Natural Falls State Park, Oklahoma.

Located near the Oklahoma/Arkansas border and only two hours from Touchmark at Coffee Creek, Natural Falls State Park is a fun day trip for those near Oklahoma City. The park’s main attraction is the 77-foot waterfall that cascades down fern covered rock formations. Railed and well-maintained trails allow visitors to look at every angle of the falls. The dense greenery offers fantastic flora and fauna, and cool forest trails. For those looking for a weekend, overnight trip, the park even offers several yurts to stay in.

Bonus: The 77-foot waterfall, called Dripping Springs, was the filming location for the 1974 movie that made us all cry, Where the Red Fern Grows. See if you can spot the famous backdrops from infamous scenes!

Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

Image of Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

Located in south-central Oregon, Crater Lake is one of Oregon’s most treasured attractions. The famous cerulean blue water has been welcoming travelers for over 115 years. Visitors have many activities to choose from while exploring the lake and Crater Lake National Park. There are miles and miles of hiking trails, lovely campgrounds, and unlimited fishing.

Bonus: Stand in the center of the crater on Wizard Island! Tours will take you there and back via boat and give you plenty of time to explore, hike, fish, or swim. If you are interested in hiking to the summit of the island, we recommend taking the morning tour as opposed to the one in the afternoon.

Mount Hood National Forest

Just a quick, hour-long drive from Portland, Oregon, the shorter list would be what you can’t do on Mount Hood. Mount Hood National Forest offers unparalleled hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, skiing, and wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. Historical Timberline Lodge is a National Landmark, and known for its beautiful views, architecture, and fluffy St. Bernards. Mount Hood is also located only minutes off Oregon’s notorious Columbia River Gorge. Cities along the Columbia are known for their intriguing history and delicious foodie scene.

Bonus: Stop at Frog Lake in the late summer and early autumn to see literally millions of tiny frogs hopping around the lake or sometimes dried-up lakebed. Just be careful not to step on any of them, as they are everywhere!

South Dakota

Black Elk Peak

Image of Black Elk Peak, South Dakota.

If you truly want to feel like the king or queen of the world, you must make a beeline to Black Elk Peak in the Black Hills National Forest near Mount Rushmore. It is the highest point in the entire country east of the Rocky Mountains at 7,242 feet and provides stunning 100-mile views from the summit.

Bonus: Several trails lead to the summit, but the Harney Peak Trail Number 9 (Southern Approach Hiking Trail) is the most frequently climbed and is likely the easiest route up. Set out from the Sylvan Lake Day Use area and prepare for about a four- or five-hour trek roundtrip through granite towers and pristine lakes.

Badlands National Park

History and geology buffs, come round! The striated plains and pinnacles throughout Badlands National Park are downright awesome. These views allow us to see the true power of Mother Nature and her ability to transform.

Bonus: In addition to many hiking trails, Loop Road takes you through the park and allows you to absorb the scenery from your vehicle. There are many viewpoints at which you can stop, stretch your legs, and snap photos.

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Image of wildflowers at the base of Mount Rainier, Washington.

A short drive for the folks at Touchmark at Fairway Village, Mount Rainier is a sight to behold year round. Snow-capped trails in the winter give way to flower-laden meadows in the spring and summer. Most of the trails are accessible during the majority of the year and don’t require any hiking equipment.

Bonus: If wildflowers make you swoon, start off at the Paradise Area with an elevation of 5,400 feet. During the summer and early autumn, this area explodes with native flower species, butterflies, and honey bees.

Mount Spokane State Park

Only an hour away from Touchmark on South Hill, Mount Spokane State Park is a beautiful day trip destination that everyone can enjoy. As one of the largest state parks in Washington, Mount Spokane offers hundreds of miles of trails, activities for every season, and spectacular wildlife viewing.

Bonus: Summit Road is perfect as a lower impact or even drivable adventure. Drive to the top and take in the views, stop at the Vista House with a view of six different lakes, and walk easy trails around the summit.

Wisconsin

Apostle Islands

Image of the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin.

The Apostle Islands are an idyllic collection of 22 islands located on the coast of Lake Superior. The National Lakeshore offers provides the opportunity for a plethora of water sports, bird watching, and cave exploring, but is first and foremost (surprisingly) a botanist’s dream. Within the lakeshore, over 800 plant species can be found; many of which are endangered, threatened, or uniquely native to Wisconsin.

Bonus: These islands have a rich geological history. Glaciated several times independently, you will find rock formations, mineral deposits, and other natural wonders not typically found all in one spot. Maritime Forest, Sandscape (includes beaches, sandspits, cuspate forelands, and tombolos), and Maritime Cliff State Natural Areas are all ready for exploration within the Lakeshore.