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Old 11-01-2013, 08:47 AM
 
Location: NoVa
18,434 posts, read 32,751,105 times
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If you are of that age, and you have a pet, do you think it has helped you health-wise?

I am doing a research paper, and while I cannot really quote from your answers, I would like to know some real life answers, and not just things from a medical journal or vet journal.

I feel like pet ownership in the elderly (I know 65 is not elderly) is of good health benefit, but some studies I have read show that it is not.

You have someone to love and take care of, and someone who loves you back. If you have a dog, you are probably getting some exercise.

I know that personally I have very many health issues that are never going to go away, but I will say my cats make me feel better. When one of them is in my lap and I am petting them, I am soothed, and I feel happy. I would venture to say my blood pressure probably also goes down. I would not qualify for my paper, because I am 39, 40 in December.

One could also say there is the financial stress of taking care of a pet as well as when you get quite a bit older, it may be more difficult.

Does anyone have any input on this? I would sure appreciate it.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:06 AM
 
Location: FL
1,119 posts, read 2,090,556 times
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I'm not quite that age but have pts and friends who are and they tell me it makes a difference. My brother is 66 and I think without our pets his quality of life would be diminished and his health would be as well. For example, he would get less exercise because he has to walk the dog so having a pet forces him to get off the couch several times a day and get moving. It also makes him laugh.

There is a downside of course, the financial stress is a concern for us now but only because they got ill at the same time and we had other financial stressors as well, the dryer pooped out, I loss time from work without compensation (this if FL yanno!) and the car needed repairs which also strained our budget. Doesn't matter how well you plan sometimes: Man plans, God laughs. <shrug> can happen at any age in any income bracket, well except maybe the 1%, ha! Downside isn't so 'down' for us, we're managing ok.

I too have health issues, not life threatening but life challenging, I don't qualify either, I'm 59. But I know Orion saved my sanity and my life. That's not melodrama. I was a fruitloop when I adopted him. I couldn't find Home Depot although I'd lived in my home for 2 years and it was less than 2 miles and 2 turns away. I had a brain injury and no support. Orion and Pax (who died from heart issues within a year) helped me heal. I adopted them because I knew having a pet would help me, a win/win for us all. Joe and the dogs came later when I had a mind that functioned =)

Many of my patients tell me similar stories. Some say they wouldn't want to live if they couldn't have their fur friends. Older people sometimes seem more attached to pets, I think because family and friends are more difficult to interact with due to lack of mobility and a pet is always there. I also find they tend to have smaller pets, cats and small dogs usually but the bond is just as strong, often stronger.

A concern, which in FL at least is unfounded, is hospital stays, especially extended ones. The Humane Society will foster your pet here. It does charge but a little known fact is that hospital staff do have hearts and most of us will help patients pay the bill - out of our pockets. I know because we've done it - and we've even fostered a patients' dog. The psychiatrist set up a plan for the patient where staff took turns with the doc taking the first turn.

Yup, having a pet as you get older can be a challenge but it is also very beneficial. I'm sorry if this doesn't help with your paper directly, but I hope it gives you some background info you can use. Obviously it's a subject close to my heart =)
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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I am 67 and we have 2 dogs and 2 cats. I've had pets my entire life and the thought of being without a special buddy is quite depressing. I know they help with blood pressure and companionship for people of all ages but especially in the elderly.

However there can be down sides. Some of us are unsteady on our feet and when pets are underfoot all the time it is scary. I tripped one time on a dog toy and broke my big toe which has caused me a great deal of trouble. My mother had 2 cats she got when she was 64. They were too much for her really. Whenever she bent down to get something from the lower parts of her fridge or pantry at least one would bounce on her back. Scared her to death. She was in early stages of dementia and they made her extremely nervous. I rehomed them for her.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:49 AM
 
532 posts, read 1,012,761 times
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I can't image it not being helpful; I'm over 60 and I've lost everyone I've ever loved: both parents, my husband. If I didn't have my cat I'd be lost; there's no way I'd not have a pet or pets.

Have you looked into pet therapy in nursing homes? Before I returned to school I worked as an activity leader in a couple of such places. You should be able to find some data in that area.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Ft. Myers
19,717 posts, read 15,237,147 times
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I'm certain having pets in your life is beneficial healthwise. First of all, they make you smile and laugh all the time, and that has been proven to aid people's mental and physical condition. Secondly, they are very comforting and their attention to you and their snuggling simply makes you feel loved and happy.

No, I have no questions about the fact they are good for people, regardless of their age.

Don
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:56 AM
 
Location: NoVa
18,434 posts, read 32,751,105 times
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Thanks for the input. To Don... I think they are good for all people as well, regardless of age, but a research paper has to be a little less broad. I chose in the elderly because elderly people are near and dear to my heart.

Neither my mother nor my grandmother had pets, and they were both pretty aggravated quite often, and very stressed out. My father, on the other hand, had many cats. He was laid back and easy going, and I never saw him stressed out.

I know that my cats make me laugh all the time, and the ease me. When I am pretty am off, Kitty Katty seams to know it and he lays or sits with me the whole time. Now that Charlie is here, he doesn't get the chance quite as often.

I am of the same opinion that pets are good for peoples physical and emotional health but I do know there have to be some downsides, and a few were mentioned here.
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:06 PM
 
43,011 posts, read 103,297,389 times
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I'm not anywhere near that age, but I do know there are ways to combat the negative financial stress. It's important for the elderly to chose a pet they can afford and physically care for. Some can afford a small dog or a cat, but some can't.

I once fostered a pet rat. It was incredibly affectionate and very affordable to feed. It mostly ate my table scraps since I eat healthy. I thought if I ever got too old for a dog or a cat and needed a companion, a pet rat would be the perfect solution. The downside is they only live for 3 years so there would be continual loss, but I could handle that going into it knowing that. As a matter of fact, I'd feel reassured I wouldn't likely be dying and leaving a pet with many years left to live without me.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:34 PM
 
Location: southern kansas
9,120 posts, read 8,133,353 times
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I was single and living alone without pets until the age of 43. When I met my wife and her cats & dogs, I became a 'pet person' and quickly discovered that I had wasted all those years being less than happy. Of course the human companionship of being in a relationship was the big reason I changed for the better in so many ways, but the pets we had were a huge part of that. We had 16 wonderful years together, and when she passed away in 07' we had 2 small dogs and 7 cats. Her death was a 5-week long ordeal that left me drained physically & emotionally, and it would have been very easy for me to just shut down and give in to the inevitable depression. But the animals wouldn't let me. I loved them SO much and was responsible for their well being. Having them there, counting on me, forced me to keep it together and deal with the grief. Time went on and things got better, and the cats & dogs became even more important as a reminder of my late wife. They're also the reason that I'm reasonably content with my life, even though I'm single again. I'm 65 now and I cannot imagine living without pets the way I did before, nor will I ever. I can tell you without a doubt that I'm healthier physically & mentally because of the effect my cats have had on me over the years.
I know this isn't contributing any hard data for your research.... just my personal experience for what it's worth.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:38 PM
 
18,842 posts, read 35,654,733 times
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The problem though, is what to do with older pets who outlive their owners. When my Grandfather died, and my Grandmother went to the nursing home, we had two dogs, that needed homes. Fortunately, my Mom took them in, after all, not a lot of folks want to adopt dogs that are 10 and 12 years old. Or are in a position to do so...
My SO says he wants nothing that will outlive him. He enjoys Jasper as his vicarious cat.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:43 PM
 
Location: near bears but at least no snakes
25,667 posts, read 25,571,149 times
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In a hurry--but my husband's doctor told him it's his dog that's kept him healthy.

He walks miles a day with a dog and never misses a day. He is now 74 yrs old and no obesity or heart trouble. Has had dogs his entire life.
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