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Can Dogs Cure Senior Loneliness?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “a man’s best friend,” but have you ever heard anyone talk about a senior’s best friend? Dogs have become a popular topic in the senior care community, and for good reason. Our furry friends have been known to be there in times of need, but the benefits they provide to senior citizens can be immeasurable. Loneliness is an issue that is far too common in the aging population, and dogs might just be the answer.

If you were to think about some of the fears you have of growing older, you’d probably include some form of loneliness on your list. The sad fact is that one of your greatest fears about age is a reality for many seniors. One of the most powerful ways that a dog reduces loneliness in the elderly is that it provides the type of connection everyone needs.

Senior Loneliness, The Problem

There is a clear distinction between being alone and being lonely. Being alone is a reality while being lonely is a perception. Senior loneliness is frequently the latter, which is far more detrimental to a person’s overall health.

Tweet: “Being alone is a reality while being lonely is a perception. Senior loneliness is frequently the latter.” [source:@amadaseniorcare]

Loneliness is one of the most common issues among the elderly. While being socially involved is typically considered a choice, it’s important to remember that some seniors have limitations when it comes to social resources. The lack of social contact is often a result of factors that are simply out of their control. As social beings, the lack of contact places a huge burden on seniors already declining health, both mentally and physically.

Why Senior Loneliness is Important

For many seniors, loneliness is not just a feeling they get on occasion. It is something they feel throughout the remainder of their years. The sole thought of being lonely for the rest of their life should be enough to care. But there are more reasons why it’s important to take action against senior loneliness.

Loneliness prevents happiness.
Loneliness is an obstacle to happiness according to Gretchen Rubin, Author of The Happiness Project. To be happy, people need intimate bonds.

Loneliness has a negative correlation with your overall health.
Seniors who claim to be lonely are more likely to have a shorter life span than those who report lower levels of loneliness. Evidence suggests that there is a link between loneliness and heart health, and it may even speed up the onset of dementia.

Loneliness can affect your mental health.
Loneliness can seriously affect your mental health. Depression and anxiety take an unfavorable toll on your overall wellbeing.

Senior loneliness isn’t something to take lightly.

How Dogs Reduce Feelings of Loneliness

You are probably wondering how dogs could be the magical solution to ending loneliness. For those of you who have a dog, you probably already have an idea. You can recall how happy your dog is to see you when you get home (even if you’ve only been gone for five minutes). Their lack of ability to contain their excitement is often a dead giveaway. For seniors, a dog is of much more significance than that.

Companionship
While your dog might be the most excited to see you come home, it likely isn’t the only one to welcome you back. For many seniors, their dog might be the only one in their life that is there to greet them consistently. The truth is, many seniors live alone. Because of that, they don’t have someone to come home to after a long day. Dogs offer seniors companionship.

Closeness
A pitfall of living a long and full life is that you get to experience death many times over. Many seniors outlive their friends. Sometimes, they are the last one standing. To recognize that all your friends have passed can be incredibly disheartening. Dogs are often the closest friend seniors have left.

Unconditional love
Some seniors may find that they still have a family that is alive and well, but they had a falling out and never reconciled. Or perhaps the senior lost his or her family due to tragic circumstances. No matter what the reason, unconditional love is as fundamental a need in seniors as it is in everyone else. A dog can be a great replacement to fill that void.

Communication
Along with being social by nature, talking plays a pretty significant role in everyday life. Sometimes you need to vent, while other times you want someone share your exciting news with. While dogs might not be able to respond, they can give a senior someone to talk to. This allows them to verbally release what they are feeling rather than holding everything in.

More Reasons Dogs Make the Perfect Companion for Aging Loved Ones

Dogs can give seniors a sense of purpose.
A dog owner has a life to take care of. They might even want to do research to learn more about their four-legged friend!

Dogs can provide your senior the feeling of protection.
People frequently feel better about living alone when they have a dog that can protect them. As a general rule, the bigger the dog, the safer owners tend to feel.

Dogs can give seniors a sense of accomplishment.
A sense of achievement is always nice. Having a dog to train is an excellent way to provide that sense. Dog owners frequently get excited about showing off things like new tricks that have been taught.

Last Words

Senior loneliness is a serious concern for the aging population, but it doesn’t have to be. If you or someone you know is suffering from senior loneliness, it’s important to make an effort to more involved in their life. If that isn’t possible, talk to them about getting a dog companion. A combination of the two could be ideal. Being proactive about the wellbeing of a senior you care about might make more of a difference in their life than words can explain.

Share this message not only to spread awareness about senior loneliness but also be part of the solution.

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“Can Dogs Cure Senior Loneliness,” by Ashley LeVine, Amada Blog Contributor.

 

Sources:
The Complete Eldercare Planner by Joy Loverde
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-project/201702/7-types-loneliness-and-why-it-matters
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