Is Dog Ownership Good For Your Mental Health And The Elderly?
Yes! There are numerous studies done all across America that support dog ownership. There is even such a thing as an Emotional Support Animal. For example, the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) states ” In a survey of pet owners, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership, and 75% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership.” There are clear benefits to owning a pet and that’s why therapists everywhere are prescribing pet ownership. While there are certain drawbacks to pet ownership, like your dog eating your comforter, or getting into the garbage. The benefits far out way any risks or possible deterrents for future pet owners.
It’s crazy to think that owning a dog can make such a big difference in anyone’s emotional state or even life. However, dogs can and do make huge differences in the lives of young people but even more so; the elderly. The elderly have a special connection with animals. They provide comfort when the dog’s owner is not able to socialize with other people or even their own family.
So What Are The Benefits?
There are tons of possible Mental benefits to owning a pet. Some of these include alleviating stress, anxiety, depression and even social isolation or the feeling of loneliness.
Stress is a big part of our daily lives. It’s just something we have to deal with. However, animals can help relieve this stress by simply being around them. Animals are naturally comforting.
Anxiety is a part of a lot of peoples lives. Owning a dog can be a serious benefit that can help relieve anxiety, Having someone there to comfort you is extremely beneficial and could lead to anxiety reduction. Many therapists are beginning to suggest therapy dogs or emotional support dogs to help relieve anxiety. Even over traditional medication in some cases.
Depression has ruined people’s lives and destroyed families. Unfortunately, there is no cure for depression. However, in some minor cases, a dog specially trained as an emotional support animal could help you cope with depression. ESA dogs are not a cure for depression. If you depressed speak with a licensed medical professional to find the best course of action in your situation.
Loneliness and Social Isolation
Loneliness and Social Isolation are two of the most common mental health problem adults face. It’s hard for most people to overcome the feeling of being isolated from everyone else. Especially when you move to a new area or start a new job. There’s no shame in feeling alone either. Dogs and even animals, in general, can help resolve some of this feeling, having someone to come home to is always a sure way to make you feel less isolated and alone.
At an older age people tend to get lonelier, dog ownership can help counteract this issue many seniors are facing. As a senior it can seem like people are ignoring you but life happens, people get busy. When you’re at that older age and your kids are not coming around anymore it’s most likely due to them trying to raise their own family, and create long-lasting memories, not because they forget about you. This is where a dog could help. There’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend.
“Dogs and cats live very much in the present,” says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey-based psychotherapist. “They don’t worry about tomorrow, which can be a very scary concept for an older person. An animal embodies that sense of here and now, and it tends to rub off on people.” Dogs provide the emotional support their owners need. While also helping the elderly live in the moment, creating memories whenever they can.
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