Tag Archives: pets

Community efforts help seniors take advantage of health benefits of pets

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Image by LollypopFarm via flickr.

Image by LollypopFarm via flickr.

Pet adoption is top of mind: Our family just brought home a 15-month old shepherd mix named Duke. After just a few days, the health benefits – both physical and psychological – are already apparent. For older adults, owning a pet can help decrease loneliness, depression, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and offer new opportunities for exercise and socialization, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some research links pet ownership to the increased production of oxcytocin. This story in The Huffington Post looks at some of the cardiovascular improvements among pet owners, and this Los Angeles Times piece from 2011 lists the pros and cons of pet ownership at any age.

However, a 2012 article in The New York Times suggested that many benefits are over-hyped. Continue reading