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January 30, 2016

 New health and wellness research shows that owning a dog can help seniors in a number of surprising ways. While the traditional benefits of having a pet are widely understood, there are several specific areas where dogs are especially good at improving health outcomes for seniors.

We already know that our furry friends offer us unconditional love and companionship, no matter our employment status, age, or physical ability level. With roughly 80 million pet dogs in America, it looks like there are a lot of people who already recognize some or most of these benefits.

But for seniors grappling with life transitions like retirement, downsizing to a smaller home, illness or social isolation, the benefits of pet ownership become even more apparent.

Pets boost mental health Social isolation and loneliness are real issues for many seniors, and often lead to mental health issues. But what if a simple wagging tail could be the cure? Research has shown that having pets can reduce tension, improve a person's mood and even help decrease depression. Turns out that the unconditional love, companionship, social interaction and touch that pets provide can help ward off or lessen some of seniors' most pressing mental health challenges.

Pets can be good for your heart You already know that pets can fill your heart with love, but did you know that they can also help lower your risk of heart disease? For starters, owning a pet makes you more active, and physical activity is important for cardiovascular health. In addition, research shows that owning a pet plays a role in lowering your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which play a role in the likelihood of developing potentially deadly cardiovascular problems.

Pets can help seniors take better care of themselves Pets require daily care, and that's a good thing. When older adults have pets for which they're responsible, they may be more motivated to take better care of themselves. That could mean being vigilant about taking medications and eating right. And senior pet owners are more likely to be active every day than seniors without pets.

Pets bring people together in assisted living facilitiesMoving is hard on everyone, regardless of age. But what if you could bring your pet with you? More than any furniture or decor, your pet connects you to your past – and can introduce you to the folks who'll be part of your future. There's a good reason so many senior living facilities have adopted pet-friendly policies. These companies know that their residents want to keep their beloved pets with them, and that pets can make the transition to a new home easier. And these communities get that pets are great at bringing people together. In the end, everyone benefits from having pets around. The presence of furry friends can make seniors physically healthier, happier and more likely to connect with one another.    Source: Huffington Post