How can owning a pet improve my aging parent's mood and outlook?

UCLA Health People Animal Connection (PAC) Program
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Owning a pet can improve an aging parent’s mood and outlook a great deal. Having a pet contributes to a person’s increased sense of belonging and responsibility, as well as camaraderie because the pet is like a family member who needs to be taken care of.
Shelley Webb
Intangible, psychological benefits have been documented with pet ownership. Stroking animals relieves stress, and the presence of non-judgmental, devoted pets combats loneliness. As a result, depression, often due to loss and isolation, is greatly reduced. Elderly people also regain a sense of self-worth and self-confidence when they are responsible for the care and feeding of another life. Additionally, pet ownership pushes seniors to take better care of themselves. A trip to the grocery store to stock up on necessities or preparation of a meal may seem burdensome to some older people. Once they are concerned about having food on hand for their dog or fixing a meal for their dog or cat, the daily routines become important again.

Continue Learning about Healthy Aging

How Friendships Improve Your Health
How Friendships Improve Your Health
In a memorable scene from I Love Lucy, Lucy and Ethel go on stage to perform a song about friendship, only to notice that they’re wearing the same dre...
Read More
Why does seborrheic keratoses happen?
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MDDr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Its simple genetic programming and another irritating aspect of aging. Some people make different sp...
More Answers
What is aging?
Mark C. Houston, MDMark C. Houston, MD
Aging is when the body shifts from a constructive (anabolism) to a destructive (catabolism) stat...
More Answers
7 Years Younger: The New Rules for Anti-Aging, Pt 3
7 Years Younger: The New Rules for Anti-Aging, Pt 3

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.