How Dogs Improve Seniors’ Health

How Dogs Improve Seniors’ HealthIt’s growing clearer that owning a dog is good for senior health. This is especially true regarding your cardiovascular health. Dogs also help reduce stress. Therefore many people have concluded that if you want to live longer you should get a dog. This is why many doctors suggest getting a dog and many nursing home facilities allow them as well.

How Research Weighs in on Dog Ownership

The University of Pennsylvania has conducted a study regarding how dog ownership impacts senior health. In doing so they discovered that 4,396 people, aged 65 years or older ended up in the hospital emergency room in 2017 with either a fracture or a broken bone that was caused by walking their dog on a leash. This information was obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Included within this database you’ll find information regarding people who’ve suffered injuries from various products or activities. These people were seen by one of the approximately 100 hospital emergency rooms that contribute to the database.

The University of Pennsylvania specifically looked at this database for the years 2014 – 2017. In doing so they found some interesting facts about senior health including:

  • 78% of those who were injured while walking their dog were women
  • 17% of people fractured their hip of this 30% had a long-term decrease in their quality of life and functional capability
  • 14% of people fractured their wrist
  • 11% of people fractured their upper arm
  • 29% of those injured had such severe injuries that they had to be hospitalized

This study also discovered that unfortunately, the number of seniors who are getting hurt while walking their dogs is on the rise. For instance, while only 1,671 people fractured a bone in 2004, 4,396 people did so in 2017. This is probably due to the fact that doctors are encouraging more seniors to own a dog because of the benefits dog ownership has on both their physical and psychological health.

The Downside to Owning a Dog

While one of the biggest benefits to dog ownership for senior health is the added encouragement to get up and go for a walk, you can clearly see that there’s also a downside here. Older individuals may have a lot of health ailments like arthritis. When you own a high-energy dog you’ll need to take him for a few long walks each day. While this is good, you do need to pay attention to what type of leash you’re walking him on. If you have him on an extendable leash and he keeps going while you do not, then you may lose your balance and get into a terrible accident. This is especially true if he’s moving at a high rate of speed. Even if you’re lucky enough to walk away with some bruises, you’ll still feel uncomfortable for a while.

Advice for Seniors with Dogs

Doctors are right in that getting a dog is a great idea when it comes to helping seniors get the exercise they need. However, there are some things you should keep in mind when you’re walking your dog:

  • Make sure that you choose a smaller dog so you won’t fall over as easily.
  • Regardless of what type of dog you get, make sure that it’s properly trained.
  • Always pay attention to what your dog is doing while you’re out walking him.

Another important aspect of senior health is their hearing. It’s important to get it checked yearly. If you live in Clearwater and Pinellas County, contact Countryside Hering Aid Services to do so today.

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