Pet-ownership can encourage seniors into an active lifestyle

If you're not sure what to get a family member on your Christmas list, the Miami Herald suggests that a cat or dog may be the perfect pet for older Americans.

According to the news source, a pet will provide companionship and can even encourage senior citizens to branch out and meet new people, as friendly pets can often serve as an ice-breaker.

The care and attention required of a pet might may also help seniors maintain an active lifestyle – both dogs and cats require daily exercise and attention that will keep seniors engaged.

Pet-ownership can encourage seniors into an active lifestyle

"A dog or cat can be the 'purr-fect' gift for a senior," Matrix Home Care psychologist Alexander Fiuza told the news source. "A pet offers a feeling of love and connection, which is very important to someone who is living alone or lacks companionship."

Dr. Fiuza also cited research that found pet owners are likely to have lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol levels as a reason to consider gifting a pet, the news source reports.

Many retirement living communities are aware of the benefits of animal companions, and they often have friendly dogs and cats come to visit residents.

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