It’s no secret that depression and loneliness are serious problems for aging adults. As friends and family members relocate to other parts of the country or pass away, your social circle becomes smaller. Major life changes like losing a spouse or even retiring can leave you feeling completely displaced and like you’ve lost your sense of purpose. To make matters worse, joint pain, medical conditions, and difficulty driving can make getting out of the house a challenge. As a result, seniors end up feeling isolated and alone.
At the same time, many studies show that remaining physically active and maintaining social connections are keys to living a long and healthy life. The companionship of a dog can help seniors meet their physical, mental, and emotional needs. While there are obviously many different dog breeds to choose from, a Golden Retriever puppy is the ideal companion for lonely seniors. Here are five reasons why.
1. Reduce Stress
Studies have found that just 10 minutes of petting a dog is enough to lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol and increase the production of the stress-lowering hormone oxytocin. Owning a pet has also shown to help those with high blood pressure maintain healthy levels. Dogs also help us live in the moment and focus on the present. Since most stress comes from bemoaning the past or worrying about the future, staying present can help create a lasting sense of calm.
Seniors who are feeling stressed or depressed can benefit greatly from owning the right kind of dog. However, it’s important not to just run out and buy the first dog you see. Seniors have special needs to consider before choosing a particular breed.
Golden retriever puppies affectionate and loyal. They’re an easy-going breed that will happily spend all day by your side, enjoying your companionship and giving back unconditional love. Since they don’t shed much, they won’t pose much of a problem for seniors who have trouble with tasks like vacuuming. Their larger size and calm temperament also make them easier to take care of. Many people don’t realize that larger breed dogs generally require far less maintenance than many smaller breeds that tend to have high energy levels, high-strung personalities, and special grooming needs.
2. Improve Health
Staying active is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your health at any age. However, even formerly active adults can start to lose their spark as they get older. With aging comes achy joints, balance issues, and fatigue. This makes seniors less likely to want to hop on a bike or head over to the gym for a group fitness classes.
However, a daily walk with your Golden Retriever puppy is exactly what the doctor ordered! Walking brings many benefits for seniors including:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Excellent weight control
- Improved flexibility
- Immune system boost
- Reduced pain from arthritis
- Improved energy levels
- More confidence
- Better mood
Golden Retrievers don’t need an inordinate amount of exercise, so one of two daily walks are usually sufficient. They’re intelligent, easy to train, and eager to please. With just a little bit of training, they will quickly learn to walk by your side without pulling on the leash and follow basic commands. Seniors who otherwise might have skipped their daily walk are far more likely to strap on their sneakers and head out the door when their furry friend is staring longingly at his leash.
3. Establish Routines
Maintaining consistent routines is critical for seniors who are starting to lose their independence, particularly those with cognitive issues. Daily routines help decrease stress and the fear of the unknown, increase feelings of security, and help you sleep better.
While seniors without much to do can start to feel like every day just blends into the next, owning a dog requires some daily structure. Dogs generally want to eat, go outside, and take walks at the same time every day.
Even if you forget, a Golden Retriever will remind you. Seniors who notice their dog pacing, whining, or staring at their food bowls are alerted that it’s time to do something important. While a depressed senior may spend hours or even days laying around, those who own dogs understand that they have a responsibility to keep their dog happy and healthy. This can give you the extra push you need to keep going even when the going gets tough.
4. Increase Social Interactions
Nothing attracts strangers and friends like the sight of a cute, cuddly puppy or a gorgeous, majestic Golden Retriever. Seniors who are out walking their Golden Retrievers are more likely to have social interactions and meet other like-minded people. Owning a dog gives you the opportunity to participate in fun activities like group dog walks or outings to the local dog park. Dogs are the perfect icebreaker for social introductions and are a great way to meet other people with similar interests.
Since Golden Retrievers are an extremely friendly and outgoing breed, they’re the perfect pet for seniors who want to remain social and active. Some seniors may also wish to engage in therapy training so they can share their joy with other seniors, children, veterans, or those confined to hospitals.
5. Find a Sense of Purpose
One of the biggest problems seniors face is the loss of a sense of purpose. When a spouse passes away, children and grandchildren no longer seem to need you, and you no longer have a job to do, life can begin to feel pointless. Depression often sets in and brings with it an array of health and cognitive issues.
Seniors who are depressed are more likely to suffer from cardiac issues, have a harder time recovering from illness and injuries, and are more likely to die from an illness. While some seniors are able to regain their emotional balance after a major loss or life change, many continue to struggle. Once a sense of purpose has been lost, finding it again can prove difficult or even impossible.
Bringing a Golden Retriever puppy into a senior’s life can create major positive changes that literally improve the quality of life overnight. Taking responsibility for another living being revives a senior’s sense of purpose. It gives them a reason to get out of bed every day and live their lives with joy and determination.
Golden Retriever puppies bring so many benefits for seniors, it’s hard to think of a reason not to own one. If you or a loved one are looking for a fun and easy way to enhance the golden years, a Golden Retriever just might be the best solution.