"I'm Too Old to Have a Dog"
This statement has been made to me so many times, I cannot even count how many. Yet, it turns out that a dog (or any pet) can be an elderly person's lifeline. There are so many reasons why you should consider getting a dog and traveling with one:
One of the biggest problems with getting older is that old people often can lose a lot of family and friends and thus feel lonely, even while out traveling and RVing. But, a pet can chase away all of that loneliness. And let's face it, for full-timers, sometimes we can get a little disconnected from
the world, but a dog will make new connections and friendships faster than you can say "Here Boy!".
The physical contact of petting an animal is relaxing, and some studies have even shown it leads to lower blood pressures in people with high blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels in those with high levels .Studies have shown that faithful pets can:
• Lower blood pressure
• Lower cholesterol levels
• Lower triglyceride levels
• Decrease feelings of loneliness
• Encourage activity in seniors
• Offer a sense of security and safety
• Enhance social activities
• Offer affection and unconditional love
• Ease the loss of a loved one
• Offer a sense of feeling needed and wanted
• Offer fun and entertainment
• Decrease feelings of isolation
In 1980, a clinical research project at Brooklyn College, New York, studied heart-disease patients after their discharge from the hospital. Dr. Erika Friedmann, Ph.D., professor of health and nutrition sciences at the College, tracked each survivor, studying their medical histories, lifestyles, families, relationships - every documentable detail. Co-researcher Dr. Aaron Katcher, M.D., reported:
"The presence of a pet was the strongest social predictor of survival...not just for lonely or depressed people, but everyone - independent of marital status and access to social support from human beings."
Surveyed Attitudes of the Elderly Regarding the Benefits of Pets:
• Talk to their pet 95%
• Pet helps when they feel sad 82%
• Pet helps when they physically feel bad 71%
• Touching their pet makes them feel better 65%
• Confides in their pet 57%
Conclusion: Pets are an integral component of the social support network for many individuals and therefore probably contribute to public health and well-being."
I asked a few friends on Facebook to relate any stories that they may have regarding pets and older people. Here are a couple of their stories:
I saw your post on your upcoming article about dogs and the elderly, recently a friend of the family who is in the army had to relocate and could not take his 9 week old pup and brought it to my dad who is 82, I have lived with him for the last 6 years to help him as he is unable to drive and his wife passed, The puppy does funny things and it makes my dad smile as he was so hardened by his wife of 40 years death…having this puppy has really helped him , and he has a friend now as most of his real friends have already passed. (Tracy Johnson Browning
I am not sure if this is the kind of story you want or not, as I am sure everyone has a story. At the time my Zaiden GSD was about 6-8 months old. Anyway a lady wanted to see him before she passed away. She new she was going to die and was on hospice, had a lot going on with her medically. Anyway, I took my wonderful bouncy boy over to see her, scared slap silly that he would hurt her (jump on her in her chair, climb things like that). Went and bought a prong collar to make sure that I could have control in the event I needed it etc...To my amazement this pup went into the house to visit this lady and honest to goodness you could not have asked for a more polite puppy he gave her kisses climbed in the chair with ever so gently. Needless to say I am very proud of him. She passed away about 2 weeks after our visit. (Shata Pace
And, I have my own story. My mother and step-father are 84 and 85 years of age. They have had dogs for the past 20 years. Two years ago they got a puppy, many of my family said they were too old, but that puppy has kept them younger. My mother gets up every morning, gets dressed, and goes outside with her dog, Daisy. I am convinced this helps drastically with keeping her in shape.
"How Community-Based Elderly People Perceive Pet Ownership," New J., Wilson C., Netting F., 1986.
Julee Meltzer is the author of Woodall's "Camping and RVing with Dogs" book. She is also the founder of a Facebook Group, Camping and RVing with Dogs. Come join us. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/RVingwithDogs/)