The importance of animals in our aging journey cannot be understated. As we grow older, having animals can be even more important than when we were younger. In our youth, pets provided us opportunities to learn responsibility; feeding, walking and cleaning up messes were our first chores. In many cases, it was also our first introduction to death and saying goodbye to a loved one. Those first learning experiences are still relevant.
We still need to provide care for our pets, but as those relationships age, we recognize that the relationship is very much reciprocal. Here are some of the ways that you and a pet can benefit from being a companion to one another.
- When our children grow up and have families of their own or when we retire, there can be a loss of purpose, routine and organization to our days. A pet can help in the structure of your day. Regular feeding, walking, cleaning, playing and vet visits that taught us responsibility in our youth can provide purpose and structure as we age.
- Pets provide companionship and ease the sense of boredom. If we find ourselves lonely after the loss of a spouse or friends, pets can help fill that void. Spending time with animals has been proven to lower blood pressure, increase activity as well as happiness.
- Something that many don’t consider is that as we age we lose many of our senses that we took for granted when we were younger. Eyesight fades, hearing loss, the change in our taste buds. The warmth of a cat in our lap, the feel of a soft coat on a dog or the sound of a songbird also brightens things as our senses fade and can give us another way to enjoy our pet companions.
- Love is the biggest bonus of having a pet or spending time with a visiting animal. The love that you give an animal is the greatest of all gifts that you can give them and that they can return.
For more information on identifying the best companion for you, contact your local animal shelter or rescue.
Animals are accepted and loved at Clermont Park Life Plan Community and Adult Day Club. You're welcome to visit to meet some of our furry friends - and a great group of vibrant older adults. Just give us a call at 720-961-9464.
By Courtney Todd, the Coordinator of Clermont Park's Adult Day Club.
Photo used by permission by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash.