Pets Can Be The Best Medicine - Retirement Net by Diane Carbo

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Pets Can Be The Best Medicine

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Having a companion can confer benefits no pill can.

Posted May 21, 2010

Having a pet in your life enhances your immunity to disease and enhances feelings of well-being. Pets are there for you when you need them. They love you unconditionally. They keep your secrets, and comfort you when you’re feeling down. The companionship and comfort a pet gives far outweighs any medicine you can take for depression or anxiety. Here are some of the ways in which pet ownership confers benefits on aging seniors:

• Pets help the aging senior focus on something positive, instead of the negative physical and emotional preoccupation that can come with aging.

• Interacting with a pet can trigger memories, and allow those experiencing memory loss to connect to experiences from their past. There is no medication that can do that for any aging senior.

• Playing and spending time with our pets causes an increase in certain chemicals in our body that promote a sense of calmness and well-being. These chemicals are also responsible for decreasing plaque build-up in the arteries. That means just by spending quality time with your faithful animal companion, you are benefiting your heart, your blood pressure, and your emotional well-being. What pill does that for you?

• A study done on heart attack victims found that those who had pets had a longer survival rate than those who did not. Animals live day to day, moment by moment. They don’t worry about the past or the future. Animals live in the here-and-now. Some feel this sense of living life in the moment becomes a part of a pet owner, as a result of having a pet.

• Individuals who have a faithful and loving animal companion at home have been found to make less frequent visits to their health care professional, for less serious health issues. Studies show that aging seniors with pets save money on their health care bills because they make fewer trips to the doctor or other health care providers.

• Aging pet owners experience less loneliness and social isolation. A pet often becomes an indispensable part of the family. Although there is a responsibility that comes from caring for a pet, many find that the benefits of having a pet far outweigh the responsibility of caring for the pets in their lives.

Pets provide us with a very special bond that not only enriches our lives, but also enhances our physical and emotional well-being. The benefits of pet therapy as we are aging with grace is experiencing and realizing that faithful pets in our lives give us something that no medication can give us...and the side effects we enjoy are better health!

Diane Carbo, RN has over 35 years’ experience in a variety of nursing settings, including orthopedics/rehabilitation nursing, home care, discharge planning, case management, oncology, hospice, senior behavior health, assisted living, and long term care. Her passion is to help people plan for long-term care needs, and to that end started Her goal is to assist aging seniors and their families to develop plans that allow individuals to remain home, safely and comfortably, in the least restrictive environment, regardless of age, income or ability level.


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