The Health Benefits of Pets to Seniors and Special Needs Children

One of the best ways to improve physical and mental well-being may be through exploring the many health benefits of pets … especially for seniors and special needs children.

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    The Health Benefits of Pets to Seniors and Special Needs Children

    The Health Benefits of Pets to Seniors and Special Needs Children

    If you have clients with aging parents or special needs children, then you can appreciate the difficulty they encounter with maintaining their loved ones’ physical health and mental wellness. However, there are health benefits of pets that improve physical and mental well-being.

    The Benefits of Senior Pet Ownership

    Just 15 minutes cuddling or playing with a dog or cat can result in immediate drops in heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels in senior citizens, and may—over the longer term—lower cholesterol levels, reduce depression, and even prevent heart disease and stroke.1

    The beneficial aspects of a pet arise from not just the comfort they can provide, but from the positive behaviors they introduce into an aging individual’s life, including:

    • Establishing a daily exercise routine through regular walks
    • Creating a sense of purpose, which can lift the spirits and reduce depression
    • Offering companionship, which can lessen a sense of isolation
    • Promoting social interactions by meeting people, such as at a dog park, during a walk (especially young children who’ll want to stop and pet them) and with neighbors
    • Providing a sense of security, which can reduce anxiety and stress

    How Pets Benefit Special Needs Children

    Did you know that young children often rank pets higher than humans as providers of comfort and self-esteem?2 For children with ADHD or autism, pets can be instrumental in their physical and emotional development. For example:

    • Pets can calm children and help them handle disorder and frustration.
    • Playing and exercising with a pet can help children improve their attention span, teach empathy and boost positive social behaviors.
    • The skill of scheduling and planning ahead that is learned through caring for a pet equips children to adopt schedules in other parts of their lives.
    • A pet can burn the excess energy children have, relieving pressure on their parents and other caregivers.

    Final Thoughts

    The appropriate pet for any individual situation will depend upon a person’s unique needs and circumstances. For instance, older dogs with a calm demeanor may be more appropriate for an elderly parent. For individuals with disabilities, a lower maintenance pet, such as a cat or bird, may be more suitable.

    Before introducing any pet into a household, your clients should consider consulting with their parents’ or children’s doctors to determine whether a pet will be beneficial and what type of pet is the best choice.



    See referenced disclosure (2) at 




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