The old saying goes, "dogs are man's best friend," and research shows they may be more than that. In fact, they just might be the key to keeping seniors active. However, the benefits of pet ownership also go beyond physical activity.
3 Ways Pups Can Improve Seniors' Health
(Family Features) Furry friends can play a significant role in pet owners’ lives. The old saying goes, “dogs are man’s best friend,” and research shows they may be more than that. In fact, they just might be the key to keeping seniors active.
According to a study conducted by the University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University in collaboration with Mars Petcare Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, dog owners 65 and older were found to walk over 20 minutes more a day than seniors who did not have canine companions at home.
The study documented three key conclusions:
“Older adult dog owners are more active than those without dogs and are also more likely to meet government recommendations for daily physical activity,” said Nancy Gee, human animal interaction researcher at Waltham. “We are learning more every day about the important roles pets play in our lives, so it’s no surprise that pets are now in more than 84 million households. It’s great to recognize how pets can help improve seniors’ lives.”
Walking with your pup can help both the pet and owner get in shape. Pets can keep older adults active and even help them meet the recommended public health guidelines for weekly physical activity. According to the study, on average, dog owners more often participated in 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity and achieved 2,760 additional steps.
However, the benefits of pet ownership go beyond physical activity. It’s no secret that pets provide companionship. From reducing rates of stress, depression and feelings of social isolation, pets can play a significant role in improving people’s lives, which ultimately can make pet owners happier and healthier.
Not only do pets serve as companions in their own right, studies have shown that dog owners can get to know their neighbors through their pets. Pets can even help facilitate the initial meeting and conversation, which may come as no surprise for many dog owners who have chatted with others while walking their dogs. For older adults who live alone or in a group facility, having a pet is also a great way to build relationships with others.
For more information on the benefits of pet ownership, visit bettercitiesforpets.com.
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From self-expression to self-direction, there are countless ways to age out loud. Some of the most rewarding ways for older adults involve passing on experiences, wisdom and skills to others. Everyone has something to share, and these ideas can help you get started.
Giving to the Next Generation
(Family Features) From self-expression to self-direction, there are countless ways to age out loud. Some of the most rewarding ways for older adults involve passing on experiences, wisdom and skills to others.
Mentor. Use professional or personal experiences to guide a child, young adult or peer. Example: Visit Senior Corps at nationalservice.gov to learn about becoming a foster grandparent.
Volunteer. Put skills to use while giving back to your community. Example: Sign up to collect food or clothing donations, serve meals at a local soup kitchen or help older adults with daily tasks at home, such as paying bills.
Teach. Impart expertise via formal or informal education and tutoring opportunities. Example: Check with local schools that may need reading, math or science tutors.
Speak. Sign up for speaking engagements, paid or unpaid, as well as storytelling events. Example: Open-mic events, often at theaters and libraries, welcome speakers of all ages.
Engage. Visit a senior center or organize a gathering focused on connecting with others. Example: Book clubs attract participants of all ages and encourage the exchange of ideas.
Write. Pen an article, op-ed or even a book to communicate wisdom and lessons learned. Example: Start with something you know the most about, such as a career, hobby or historical event, and submit a column to your local newspaper.
Create. Pick a medium and use art to express yourself and share your perspective. Example: Paint, draw, sculpt, play music, dance, make crafts – whatever suits you.
These ideas and many others can help amplify the voices of older Americans and raise awareness of vital aging issues in communities across the nation. Find more ideas at oam.ACL.gov.
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