4 Ways Seniors Can Work with Dogs and Improve Their Mental Health In the Process
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of older adults suffer from a mental disorder. Seniors should take steps to improve their mental health, and one way is to work with dogs. Dogs provide companionship and comfort, as well as an opportunity to stay active. Here are a few ways to get a mental health boost by spending time with man’s best friend:
- Volunteering at a Local Animal Shelter
Often, retirees enjoy working as volunteers. Seniors who struggle with depression may prefer volunteering at an animal shelter. Caring for dogs can help lower depression, high levels of stress, and anxiety.
Volunteering in general has mental health benefits. A recent study found that donating one’s time can lower depression and increase overall well-being. It also gives a sense of purpose, which can stave off loneliness and depression.
- Becoming a Dog Walker
Dog walking is another excellent option. Dog walking offers the opportunity for seniors to get outside for some exercise, especially if they are unable to do other sorts of physical activity in a gym or fitness facility. The low impact of walking makes it easy to do on a daily basis, and exercise also helps reduce depression by releasing endorphins.
And, by adding a dog to the mix, the senior gets companionship, unconditional love, and affection. Dogs also provide a soft, warm, physical presence that can be a true comfort.
- Getting a Mental Health Assistance Dog
Seniors may not realize that mental health assistance dogs are available to serve those with acute anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, generalized anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and other mental health issues. Seniors will find comfort and assistance from working with these specially-trained canines both at home and in public. They are able to remind seniors to take their medication, wake up in time for volunteering or social activities, and cope when their owners get overwhelmed.
- Becoming a Dog Sitter
Walk time not enough? Consider dog sitting! Dog sitting keeps seniors busy and gives them an animal to care for and love like their own. More playtime gives more opportunities to be active and get exercise throughout the day.
Seniors have numerous options when it comes to improving their mental health with the help of a dog. Whether it’s volunteering or dog sitting, let man’s best friend help lead the way to a healthier life!
Jim Vogel is the co-creator of ElderAction.org, which was launched after he and his wife became caregivers for their parents. With the site, he hopes to spread awareness about senior health and wellness and also to provide valuable resources for caregivers on other senior-related topics. When he isn’t working on the site, Jim enjoys fishing and reading, in addition to spending time with his family.
Image via Pixabay by meineresterampe