Here’s a number for you, a big number. 84.6 million. That’s approximately how many American homes have a pet of some kind.
For the elderly in particular, the human/pet bond goes especially deep. As socially-active and socially-minded beings, humans in general need interpersonal contact; and if that contact is diminished for whatever reason – loss of a partner or friend, transition to retirement – a pet can be a wonderful substitute for that companion or contact. According to researchers, pets can help satisfy the longing for both company and the need for affection.
Even further, researchers say that because these loving animals enrich our lives in so many ways, what a human can receive from a pet goes beyond simple companionship. Pets can actually lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and may even reduce direct pain. And for the senior adult, pets are wonderful companions to help offset the challenges of loneliness and depression.
Just ask Parkview Senior Community resident Carole Prevett. Yes of course she fulfills her pet Molly’s basic needs and provides affection, but what she receives in return is limitless. “When my husband died in 2006, I was all by myself and was lonely inside the house. I needed something to move around in the home and be company to me. So, I got this little white poodle named Molly and she keeps me company and I just love her to death, and I am so glad I have her. Having her makes me get out and do exercises, which we all have to do but sometimes we don’t. She makes me get up and do my walking. So that’s a plus.” Carole adds, “The two most positive things in my life right now are Molly and Parkview, and I am so grateful for both.”