There is no question that animals brighten our lives. Whether it’s cuddling with a pet of your own or watching videos of our canine and feline friends online, they can add an instant boost to your day. For many seniors living in retirement communities, pet ownership isn’t an option, but at The Gatesworth, furry friends are more than welcome. The senior living community is dedicated to the health and well-being of its residents, so it understands how enriching and beneficial having a pet can be. It’s just one of the many ways it’s dedicated to ensuring older adults stay active and engaged.
The benefits of pet ownership are manifold. Dr. Marwan Sabbah, director of Cleveland Clinic’s center for health, notes that they can affect stress levels and brighten moods. “Simply petting an animal can decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol and boost the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in lower blood pressure and heart rate and, possibly, in an elevated mood,” she explains. Reducing your stress can positively impact other areas of your health, including heart disease, weight gain, mental health and even chronic conditions like diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that playing with or walking a pet can help decrease blood pressure and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s recommended that a healthy adult get 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week, and a pet dog can help add structure to your daily routine that makes it easier to reach that goal. However, if The Gatesworth residents cannot walk their pet for any reason, the staff is happy to assist with the task. “I love my dog, Gigi,” resident Eleanor Stude says. “I don’t have the time to walk her as much as she likes, so I schedule The Gatesworth’s concierge to take her.”
Pets also are a great way to avoid social isolation—an issue the pandemic has shone a light on over the last two years. Research has demonstrated that owning an animal or even just interacting with one can improve social connections, provide social support and decrease loneliness. At a community like The Gatesworth, it also offers a great way to connect with other residents. Whether you’re sharing stories about your cat’s latest antics or meeting other walkers while taking your dog for a stroll, pet ownership is a great way to create new relationships or bond with old friends. “Gigi and I have made many new friends at The Gatesworth,” Stude notes.
Pet ownership isn’t necessarily for everyone, but having the option is important. The Gatesworth allows residents to pick the lifestyle that will best serve them—whether that means getting exercise with an active dog, taking in the peace and quiet with an older cat, or just enjoying the amenities of the community on your own. It’s a choice that resident Karen Levine enjoys having. “I have had many cats throughout the years—each has had its unique personality,” she notes. “Roxie, my current cat, brings me so much joy. I am thankful that The Gatesworth allows pets.”