Pets Help Seniors, Veterans Stay at Home

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Missouri have found that owning and caring for animals helps humans feel happier and healthier.  Among those who benefit from interaction with pets, seniors and veterans are some that benefit the most.  Walking dogs helped seniors feel independent and social, not to mention helped keep their walking speed up, which in turn helped them lead a healthier life.  This means that, as they age, seniors who actively walk with pets are more likely to “age in place–” that is, stay at home rather than move to senior apartments or homes.  Veterans, too, benefited from being active and social with animals: caring for them helped reduce the intensity of PTSD.  Having loyal, loving pets helped veterans feel valued; and those veterans taking part in the study formed bonds with each other, which also lowered stress amongst them.  Pets became a sort of therapy for veterans as they re-adapted to home life.  Caring for pets makes people feel responsible, the study found, and also helped them be more active and social.  For those that did not have pets, volunteering at a local animal shelter also had the same effect.

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