|Teresa M. Clemons
It can be a lonely life for senior citizens – whether living on their own or in an assisted living facility, or dealing with physical and/or mental conditions. Though it’s not a cure for health issues by any stretch of the imagination, a dog can provide relief for many of the issues that our elderly population deals with daily. Whether dealing with the loss of a spouse or another loved one, or having a child move far away, the companionship of a furry, four-legged friend can lead to a different kind of love and friendship.
Living with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very scary and can cause frustration and agitation. The interaction with a puppy (holding, petting – which is also great for arthritis – or giving kisses) can have a calming effect. In some sufferers who have trouble eating on a regular basis, the company of a dog has actually stimulated their appetites. It can be hard for seniors to stay active if they do not get out much or do not have planned activities. A short walk (stopping and starting as many pooches do, as they have to sniff every blade of grass along the way) can be a nice, mild cardio workout! Sometimes it will lead to activities even when the dog is not physically there. Owners may want to read about the specific breed, and having a topic to discuss with others can be a great way to stimulate the brain. The American Heart Association even released a study showing that owning or interacting with a dog can prevent heart disease! How amazing the power of a K-9 companion can be.