Now it’s proven: Scientists at a veterinary school in California found that seniors who have a dog are more active, socialize more and share more with those around them about current experiences and events. Despite these benefits, many retirement and nursing homes are still reluctant to allow dogs as pets. However, some senior facilities have already recognized the positive effects of four-legged friends on seniors and allow their residents to bring their little friends with them or buy them.
Dogs, just like humans, are social creatures that need and give love and attention. The elderly feel loved and needed and this can prevent the loneliness that is often found in old age. By caring for the dog every day, a regular daily routine can be maintained, and going for a walk means that the seniors are fitter and more active and exercise regularly in the fresh air.
Furthermore, seniors with a dog have a better connection to reality. Older people without a dog, on the other hand, often live in memories of the past. Socializing is also made easier by the lovable four-legged friends: People open up more easily and get into conversation with other dog owners and neighbors, for example. Without a dog, this would usually not happen. However, dogs and masters should match each other in terms of age. A playful, hyperactive puppy would possibly overwhelm the seniors – ideally, animal and human age together.
The many advantages clearly show what enrichment dogs represent for seniors and retirement homes. And although it will probably take some time before progress finally catches on, one thing is clear: the future in retirement and nursing homes belongs to “man’s best friend”!