Many will rightly sing the praises due the remarkable actor, John Mahoney, who died today. However, I want to take a moment to point out the important public health service Mahoney provided through his character on the popular TV series Frazier. “Marty Crane” and his loyal dog “Eddie” beautifully presented the many wonderful benefits pets afford our senior citizens.
According to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society there are many health benefits for seniors who have a pet or two. In fact, the Journal states there are many benefits for the seniors, the pets and society as a whole. Geriatric researchers found seniors with pets more active than seniors without pets and they score higher in their ability to carry out normal activities of daily living. Many positive effects on physical well-being are identified, including a healthy ability to fend off isolation and loneliness.
The Journal report says that pet ownership has a statistically significant effect on the physical health of older people. Further, the care-taking role involved in pet ownership may provide older people a sense of purpose and responsibility and encourages them to be less apathetic and more active in day-to-day activities. In fact, researchers found that elderly people who lacked strong social support (family and friends) remained relatively emotionally healthy during life-crises compared with non-pet-owners placed in similar situations. The evidence demonstrates that pets provide real health benefits to the elderly.
10 health reasons why pets are great for seniors
1. Pets lower blood pressure: A study of health patients showed that people over 40 who own pets had lower blood pressure than people who did not have pets. Another study showed that talking to pets decreases blood pressure.
2. Fewer trips to the doctor: Seniors who own pets go to the doctor less than those who do not. In a study of 1,000 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed pet owner in the study had 21 percent fewer physician’s contacts than non-pet owners.
3. Less depression: Studies show that seniors with pets do not become depressed as often as those without pets.
4. Easier to make friends: Seniors with pets meet more people and like to talk about their pets.
5. Seniors become more active: Seniors with pets are generally more active than those without pets.
6. Pets are friends: Most everyone, but especially seniors, will say that pets are their friends.
7. Pets ease loss: Older people who suffer the loss of a spouse and own a pet are less likely to experience deterioration in health following that stressful event.
8. Pets fight loneliness: You are less likely to be lonely with a feline friend around.
9. Taking better care of themselves: Seniors take good care of their pets and better care of themselves when they own a pet.
10. Sense of security: Pets help seniors to feel that someone they trust is always around.
Marty and Eddie provided hundreds of examples of these benefits over nine years on the Frazier show. If you are a senior citizen wanting to take advantage of all these health benefits please consider adopting one or two senior pets today.