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Why? A study suggests that dog owners over the age of 65 can turn back the clock by as much as 10 years. Here are a few ways your furry friend may help, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
In addition, the simple act of walking your dog several times a day can lead to increased physical exercise and the potential to socialize with dog owners and others along the way. That’s consistent with a study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland which found that dog owners over the age of 65:
So what are the potential downsides? Having a dog, or for that matter any four-legged animal like a cat in the house, can lead to an increased risk of accidents.
The CDC found that in a year, about 86,000 Americans went to the ER because of a fall linked to a pet. And these were mostly from dogs.
If you’re thinking about getting a dog, or if you already have a furry companion, here are a few tips to help reduce your risk of falling:
Any fall should be taken seriously. For older adults, according to the CDC, falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions and injury deaths. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for knowing when to get care after a fall, but here are some things to think about:
If there is pain or bleeding that doesn't stop right away, you should call 911.
Lastly, make sure you tell your doctor about any falls at your next visit. Let your provider know if you felt faint or dizzy before the fall.
Originally published 10/26/2016; Revised 2019, 2021
Check out these organizations that support dogs for seniors:
Pets for the Elderly
Pets for Seniors
Seniors for Seniors
There is quite a bit of information on-line in getting dogs to seniors to support mental health.
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