The benefits of caring for a pet in your retirement years

For pet owners of all ages, a pet isn’t just an animal: it’s a member of the family. Between feeding, walking, bathing and a host of other responsibilities associated with pet ownership, being a caregiver to a furry or feathered friend no doubt requires a level of commitment—yet almost any pet owner can attest to the love and loyalty they receive far outweighing any work involved. But, aside from unwavering companionship, did you know owning a pet can positively impact your emotional and physical wellness, especially during your retirement years?

As a report by the International Federation on Ageing suggests, there is increasing evidence demonstrating that our relationship with our companion animals yields important health benefits. First, caring for a pet can improve an owner’s sense of overall wellness and self-esteem. Many pet owners admit that the companionship provided by a pet can have a calming quality, and that’s because interactions with a pet can elevate an owner’s levels of serotonin and dopamine, nerve transmitters that have a pleasurable, soothing effect. In a survey conducted by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, 90% of senior pet owners reported that owning a pet positively impacted their health, while another 70% said their pet helped to reduce feelings of stress. This sentiment is echoed in an article by, which points to how animal companionship can lessen feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and overall stress.

For shy individuals or those who live with social anxiety, owning a pet can also improve their social health. Oftentimes, a pet can act as an icebreaker for conversation, with others unable to resist inquiring about or interacting with a cuddly animal. With regular socialization being key to retirees’ emotional and cognitive health, increased opportunity for conversation and connection can only help an older pet owner. Furthermore, caring for a pet can bring a sense of purpose and structure to an owner’s day, adding to feelings of wellness.

And that’s not all—pet ownership can have tangible physical benefits, too. Animal companions have been shown to lower blood pressure, assist in recovery from heart disease, and even combat the risk of cognitive impairment. For dog owners, caring for a canine companion also naturally encourages daily exercise. An Australian study on walking found that retirees with dogs were much more likely to meet their recommended daily physical activity goals than others in their age group. We all know the power of exercise for maintaining or improving our overall health, but staying active has its own important advantages for older adults, including combating age-related disease like dementia, heart disease and cancer.

At Chartwell Waterford Retirement Residence, we recognize how much a pet can add a sense of warmth and love to a home, and how pets are an important part of your family. With this in mind, our modern and welcoming retirement community in Oakville, expected to open Winter 2018, will be a home where you can pursue the lifestyle you want alongside your animal companion, continuing to reap the therapeutic benefits of having them by your side. Among our many on-site amenities, we have a full-service pet-washing station that assists residents with meeting their pet’s grooming needs. Our beautifully-manicured walking trail and gardens—as well as our desirable North Oakville neighbourhood—also make for the perfect setting to take your pet for a long, invigorating walk.

Visit today to learn more about Chartwell Waterford Retirement Residence.