Going from a busy, fast-paced, work-centric lifestyle to a slower, more laid-back one upon retirement can be quite a shock for some seniors. While it does give you more time to pursue new hobbies and simply take some much-deserved time for yourself, it sometimes also brings feelings of loneliness, isolation, or lack of purpose.
Adopting a pet is one way to combat these negative feelings and continue living a positive, flourishing lifestyle. Check out some of the amazing emotional, mental, and health benefits a pet can provide you in your golden years.
One of the most well-known mental health benefits of owning a pet is the happiness they bring to your life. Interacting with pets increases your serotonin, or “happy” hormone, which helps lower your stress, giving you a better sense of peace and happiness.
Aging brings greater risks to your health. One of these higher health risks is depression, so having a loyal and loving pet by your side can help prevent loneliness. The companionship and affection they bring help to reduce anxiety and can interrupt negative thoughts or behavior.
Encourages Social Interaction
Among the notable health benefits of having a pet is the increased social interaction they bring. This doesn’t just refer to the time you spend playing or cuddling with your pet (although that counts, as well). Having a pet pushes you to get out of your home. Whether you walk your pet, buy pet supplies, or bring them to the groomer, all these are opportunities to talk to others and get to know your neighbors.
Increases Physical Activity
Aside from the mental health benefits of having a pet, there are physical benefits, too. The most obvious one is increased physical activity. This is especially true if you decide to own a dog. Walking your pet and playing with them boosts your daily physical activity and exercise.
Fosters Heart Health
More physical activity and regular exercise can improve your heart health. It helps reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which can mean more happy and healthy years of life.
Creates a Sense of Purpose
After years of being on the daily grind, it’s common for seniors to consider their job or the concept of providing for their family as their reason to get up each morning. As such, retiring and living a slower-paced life can throw you for a loop. One of the underrated mental health benefits of owning a pet is the sense of purpose they give you. The knowledge that your pets depend on you for food, shelter, and hygiene — as well as the affection they give in return — makes you feel appreciated and needed.
Another one of the many mental health benefits of pets is the boost of self-esteem they provide. The unconditional love that pets give can help you feel better about yourself. No matter how you may look, sound, or move, your pet will still be there to give you love and affection.