How can a pet benefit a lonely senior?

UCLA Health People Animal Connection (PAC) Program
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
A pet can benefit a lonely senior in several ways. Because a person’s oxytocin level rises when he or she has a pet, and because oxytocin is the hormone responsible for bonding with others, seniors are more apt to experience a sense of bonding in general if they have a pet. Additionally, a lonely senior with a pet, let’s say a dog, would be more likely to socialize with others who share a common interest in dogs.
Owning a pet can also give seniors a greater sense of family. According to one study, 81 percent of families with a dog consider the dog to be a family member, allowing the dog to sleep on the same bed and giving their dog left-overs from their own meals. Also, nearly 100 percent of pet owners talk to their pet, which for a senior can help to reduce loneliness.

A pet for a lonely senior can offer many benefits, such as companionship, loyalty, caring for a living being, sense of purpose. But mainly a pet offer the lonely senior something to love.

When planning for a pet, consider the senior capabilities of taking care of a pet and if that pet portray a health or accident risk (example: a hyper pet getting under foot or allergy to a certain pet).

Getting the right pet will help keep the senior, more active and motivated with life. It is known that pets are good for stress relief and metal health. 

Remember the senior life will change significantly when adding a pet to the family.

Alexis Abramson
Having a pet can offer a lonely senior a sense of well-being, encouragement and even a reason for living. Being responsible for another life often gives new meaning to the lives of those who are living alone or who have experienced a loss. Caring for and providing a loving home to an animal companion will also encourage your father to remain active and stay healthy. However, I strongly suggest that you don’t surprise your loved one with a pet. Instead, discuss the idea with him and see if he’s open to it, go pet shopping together so you can help him consider the costs, responsibilities and his lifestyle when making the decision!

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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.