The list of the advantages of pet ownership for the elderly is quite extensive. From a purely medical point of view, studies have shown pet ownership to reduce blood pressure, reduce stress anxiety, and to reduce depression. Reduced rehab time after heart attacks has been documented in the pet owning population; coronary disease and cholesterol issues are reduced as well. Pet owning seniors also visit the doctor less often. Muscle strength and flexibility are better. Many of these physical benefits are traced to the increased activity, such as walking, that pet owners undertake with their animals. Walking also keeps them in touch with the restorative aspects of the surrounding community and nature.
Zeba S. Geloo, MD
- internal medicine
Location and Office HoursInternal Medicine Associates
110 Irving St NW Rm 2A38
Washington, DC 20010
- Anthem BlueCross BlueShield
- BlueCross BlueShield
- CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
- Coventry Health Care
- First Health
- Great-West Healthcare Cigna
- Kaiser Permanente Health Plans
- United Healthcare
- MedStar Washington Hospital Center
How could a pet improve my aging parent's health?
Shelley Webb, Nursing, answered
How should I stretch my legs if I'm an older adult?
F. Michael Gloth, III, Gerontology, answeredLeg stretching exercises include:
- Lower extremity extensions -- There are two different stretch exercises. First is done with the back heel remaining fixed to the ground while you stretch your calf. Next, release the heel and provide more stretch for the upper leg muscles. The latter requires caution, with more strength required the lower you go. Only go to a level that is comfortable for you, and be careful not to strain or overstress your knee.
- Toe touches -- This stretch needs to be geared to individual ability. It is not necessary to actually touch your toes -- just lean forward in the direction of your toes while maintaining your balance. The movement needs to be smooth; hold the lowest position for a few seconds before slowly straightening up. This stretch is usually best done as a cool down exercise.
- Split (very advanced) -- Many people cannot safely get to the point where their hands can reach the ground in this stretch. Unless you have some support from a rail or other sturdy fixture, you might want to skip this stretch until your flexibility allows you to do it easily and safely. This is generally an exercise for cooling down rather than one done at the beginning of your exercise routine. Consider doing this next to a fixed bar or other support to reduce risk of injury.
- Partial squats -- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then flex your knees and extend your arms straight out in front of your body. Keeping your heels on the ground, try to squat down while maintaining balance, but go no further than the level at which your upper legs are parallel to the ground. Going beyond this point is too hard on the knees. From a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart, squat down until thighs are about parallel to the ground.
- Back leg kicks -- Put your hands and knees on the ground. Then kick one leg back and extend it as far as possible while extending the opposite arm forward. Note that your back should remain straight throughout this exercise. Continue alternating between left and right for 20 repetitions.
Find out more about this book:Fit at Fifty and Beyond: A Balanced Exercise and Nutrition Program (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)
How does aging affect the body?
Bryce B. Wylde, Alternative/complementary Medicine, answeredBiologically, aging is the accumulation of random damage to the building blocks of life -- especially to our deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and to certain proteins, carbohydrates and fats that reside in our organs and tissues. Damage begins early in life and eventually with old age exceeds the body's self-repair capabilities. Later comes the characteristic manifestations of aging: loss of muscle and bone mass, a decline in reaction time, compromised hearing and vision, graying of the hair, and a reduced elasticity of the skin.
Many of us judge the degree and speed of the aging process by this wrinkling effect. Although it is in fact one of the most observable consequences of the inevitable aging process, it has little to do with our expiry date. Wrinkling may be, however, what motivates a guy in mid life to consider the cherry red convertible sports car! It is unquestionably what sells topical creams loaded with miracle anti-aging effects that are supposed to make you look twenty again.
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