The Benefits of Owning a Pet

in News

Written by PARC Retirement Living

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being a pet parent, you know that pets can bring immeasurable joy to day-to-day life. Their unconditional love, cuddles and playful nature can fill the heart and home with a happiness like no other. And for older adults, the benefits go well beyond love and cuddles.

Pets that fit your lifestyle can be downright good for your health and well-being! Having a pet can reduce stress, calm the nervous system, and even decrease depression and anxiety. Pets also encourage exercise and social activity, and decrease loneliness and isolation.

They can also change your whole view on life! When Louisa Flinn, our Senior VP of Marketing and Sales, got a dog, she was surprised at the complete change in perspective her new companion brought to her life, work, and even her approach to aging.

Many seniors worry that moving into an independent senior living community will mean having to give up their pet. But not at PARC. We welcome small pets in our residences and have housed many wonderful animals in our PARC communities throughout the years, including cats, dogs, budgies and more.

Cathy and her “star” Shih Tzu Daisy Mae are just one of many examples. Every morning after breakfast, the Cedar Springs resident takes Daisy Mae out for a walk, where she typically runs into residents who stop to chat with her, and say hello to Daisy Mae. It’s a lot different from her previous life in a condo, where she could go for days without running into any of her neighbours.

Mulberry PARC, for its part, hosts an adopted budgie named Hansel, who has brought so much joy to all of the residents – even those who aren’t pet people. The residents care for him like their own, always ensuring his cage is clean, his water is full, and that he is visited often.

We also occasionally bring in guest animals – such as “therapy” dogs, hamsters and guinea pigs, as special visitors for our residents who don’t have pets of their own. Mulberry PARC even hosted hatching chicks last year, and our seniors enjoyed every moment of their time with the furry little hatchlings, and are looking forward to welcoming a new brood of baby chicks this year.

If you’re still not quite convinced about all these benefits, here’s a look at four significant reasons to having an animal in your life.

Pets offer purpose and companionship

Whether you have a dog, a cat or a budgie, the companionship of an animal can be invaluable. As we age, we often endure our share of loss and grief, and having the constant companionship of a pet can help to fill tougher times with love, affection and the sense of being needed by another being. Having to feed, water and care for a pet gives a great sense of purpose to life. Plus, is there anything better than furry cuddles?

Dogs are a great excuse to get more exercise

If you’re looking to add more movement to your life, then consider getting a dog. You’ll have no excuse but to take them out for a walk a couple of times each day. Small dogs are perfectly suited to our suites here at PARC, and they tend to need less exercise than bigger breeds. Small dogs also have longer lifespans than larger dogs, meaning more years of loving companionship.

Pets encourage social encounters

Ever stopped to pet a dog or chat with its owner as they’re walking in your neighborhood? Ever looked forward to visiting a neighbour with a cat? Pets are a great conversation starter and a good incentive to socialize, which helps to decrease loneliness and isolation.

Pets boost both physical and mental health

Getting more exercise is always beneficial, but pets can improve your health in other ways too. Studies have shown that petting a dog for just 15 minutes can significantly reduce stress. In fact, having a furry friend has been shown to improve cognitive function, increase mental health and foster a sense of gratitude and mindfulness. And better still? All these benefits can add years to your life.

Whether you already have a pet and are looking for a seniors’ community that will welcome it (and you), or are considering adding a new pet to your life, our people at PARC can help to ensure you find the right fit. After all, our residents’ pets make life around here better and more enjoyable for us all.