About 68% of U.S. households have a pet, according to a recent survey from the American Pet Products Association.
Research shows there are physical and emotional benefits to owning a pet, especially for older people, says Alan Beck, 72, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and co-author of Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship. Alan owns two rescue dogs, Lili and Lucie.
For one thing, pets provide companionship so people feel less lonely. “People feel a lot of stress when they are alone,” Beck says. “Animals can be the focus of attention and keep you in the present. You have to feed them, walk them, find their toys under the bed. Even focusing on fish in a fish tank keeps your mind on the present. People live longer with a pet, its that simple. And any time you can keep your mind on the present, there is less stress and less anxiety because stress is caused by worrying about the past and the future.” Pets provide companionship, affection, entertainment and purpose, says psychologist Teri Wright of Santa Ana, Calif., who has three small dogs and two cats at home. She also has a bird and a hamster in her office to serve as conversation ice breakers with her patients.
Beck also says:
■ Pets are something to touch;
■ Pets require nurturing;
■ They encourage more exercise;
■ Have a pet will help lower blood pressure;
■ Having a dog or a cat can help orient your day;
■ Pets help you focus your attention away from other issues;
■ Animals provide humor;
■ Your furry friends are social facilitators
See full story on Want a healthy retirement? Consider getting a pet
Anyone who as ever had a pet knows all of the above to be true. The importance of a pets to retirees cannot be overstated – there is no doubt in my mind that you live longer with a pet. A pet can simply give a person a reason to get out of bed in the morning!
Pets, you gotta love ’em