What dogs mean to us whatever our age!
I chose the title for today’s post deliberately. Wanting it to act as a metaphor for our senior years, as the dear Americans like to put it, or leaning on my English roots, preferring the metaphor of the sinking sun for the Autumnal years of our lives.
We live in a part of the world where “The median age was 47.3 years.”
Josephine County, Oregon
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 82,713 people, 34,646 households, and 22,498 families residing in the county. The population density was 50.4 inhabitants per square mile (19.5/km2). There were 38,001 housing units at an average density of 23.2 per square mile (9.0/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.4% white, 1.4% American Indian, 0.8% Asian, 0.4% black or African American, 0.2% Pacific islander, 1.5% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 6.3% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 26.3% were German, 15.6% were Irish, 15.5% were English, 5.5% were Italian, and 5.5% were American.
Of the 34,646 households, 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.2% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 35.1% were non-families, and 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.82. The median age was 47.3 years.
Yet in the rural areas of this County one does see a fair number of people who, as with Jean and me, are the wrong side of 65!!
But one very frequent observation of those ‘senior’ people is that they have a dog in their lives.
On April 10th, I posted a guest article written by Jessica Brody. It was very well received and I closed that post by saying: “I know many will agree with me when I say that it would be good to receive some more articles from Jessica.”
Our wishes have been granted. Here is Jessica’s second guest article.
The Wonderful Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors
by Jessica Browdy. May 3rd., 2017
It’s no mystery that pet ownership can bring joy to people’s lives, but it turns out that having a pet may benefit seniors in ways that reach far beyond the pleasures of companionship. For elderly people who live alone or in senior care facilities, owning a pet can improve mental and physical health, paving the way for longer, healthier, and happier lives. Here are five ways that having a critter companion can benefit senior health.
Pets Improve Senior Mental Health
One of the greatest benefits of pet ownership for people of any age is the unconditional friendship and love that a pet provides. This support is especially important for elderly people, who are prone to loneliness and isolation as they leave the workforce, children move away, and friends and loved ones begin to pass on. Isolation is one of the biggest risks to senior health; isolation can cause depression (and related issues), cognitive decline, and even early death. The company of a beloved pet can help seniors stave off loneliness and preserve their mental health. Caring for a pet can also give seniors something to focus on other than negative thoughts about grief, physical ailments, and aging, thereby reducing their overall stress levels.
Pets Keep Seniors Social
Pets do more than provide a social outlet for seniors — they can actually lead the elderly to be more social with their peers as well. People are naturally drawn to dogs, and a senior who is out walking a pet is more likely to meet new people than if walking alone. Pets can help bring people together in senior living facilities, too. Dogs, cats, and other animals give people a common interest over which they can come together, share stories, and develop friendships.
Pets Reduce Heart Attack Risk
Companion animals like dogs, cats, birds, and even fish can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure. One study showed that being in the presence of your dog can even have a greater impact on your blood pressure than some medications. And by lowering blood pressure, pets can reduce heart attack risk in seniors.
Pets Keep Seniors Active
The daily routine of caring for a pet helps seniors maintain functional mobility. Giving food and water, cleaning a litter box, and letting the dog outside makes a sedentary senior get up and get moving. These simple activities can support an elderly person’s ability to complete the activities of daily living like bending, preparing meals, bathing, and dressing. Older people who own dogs are also more likely to stay active into their later years. Not only do they get out to walk the dog, but they’re also more likely to be involved in other active hobbies like gardening.
Pets Improve Senior Personal Care
A senior who has a daily pet care routine is more likely to adhere to a daily personal care routine. Having a routine gives structure to a senior’s days, making it easier to adhere to medication schedules, meal times, and personal care. Maintaining a daily routine can even help seniors sleep better.
Seniors can be saviors to pets, too. When older people adopt adult or senior pets, they provide a loving, stable home to an animal that may not have found a home otherwise. Dogs and cats aged seven and older are adopted at staggeringly low rates, even though they still have years of love to give. Many shelters and rescues even offer discounts for seniors adopting senior pets, so be sure to ask if you might be able to adopt your new friend at a reduced rate.
Image viaPixabay by marmax
Author: Jessica Brody
Keep them coming, Jessica. (Well that’s the view from this senior!)