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Written by: Amy Ryan Rued
Date: May 3, 2015

Hearing our gray cat purr endlessly while sprawled length-wise across my husband’s legs— safely distanced from her sister Chloe-Belle—has become a nightly ritual for Clara-Belle (named after Clarabell the Clown from the Howdy Doody show). In our household, this four-legged pair is known as the “Belle Sisters.”

ClaraBelle on Jack's Lap

ClaraBelle’s Morning GreetingClaraBelle in the sink

We’re not alone in pet ownership. Among Baby Boomers, we represent an increasing number, and according to U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2015-2016, our age group continues to be a formidable demographic for the pet industry. In fact, their most recent survey reveals that more than 35% of boomer households are pet owners.

ChloeBelleChloeBelle

Of course, as we age, we’ll see that we will be changing the trend where traditionally as one reaches the age of 70, pet ownership has declined. There is an expectation that this historical trend will increase, as boomers are “aging better.”

 Pets and Our Health

There are reasons why pet ownership among boomers and seniors is rising. Pets offer companionship and some solid health benefits. It might surprise you to learn the remarkable health benefits of owning a pet.

  • Exercise: Walking your dog for their regular “constitutional” is much better than sitting on the couch. And, chasing your cat around the house in a desperate attempt to save the chipmunk that mysteriously ended up in your feline’s mouth can get that heart rate up as well. Animal owners have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels than the general population. That leads to better circulation and lower risk of cardiac issues.
  • Getting You Outside: Walking your dog gets you out in the sun, giving you your daily dose of Vitamin D, and offering a wonderful dose of fresh air, exchanging pleasantries with neighbors and the possibility of meeting new friends.
  • Stress Reduction: Petting your animal has been shown to actually cause the release of oxytocin, one of our hormones that can minimize stress, reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels.
  • Mental Health: Pets are actually quite skilled listeners (and rarely interrupt!). Studies have revealed that having pets to share your thoughts and feelings is very therapeutic.
  • Purpose:  For many, having a pet actually provides a purpose. When you have a pet to focus on, you can simply begin to give up focusing on the things that are problems in your day—and just “be” with your pet.

Boomers are known for wanting to make a difference in the world so consider bringing your dog to a nursing home or hospital that invites furry ambassadors to spread their love and offer companionship to residents.

And, finally, pets can provide an experience of unconditional love. That is something that many people lack in life. It can be an amazing experience to share that love with your pet, and really know that depth of love that a pet can provide.

So, while my husband and I think of how the Belle Sisters are a real pain sometimes, we both look forward to our nightly family ritual when they are cuddled on our laps getting in the way of the book or newspaper we’re reading; or during the day lying in front of the keyboards of our computers demanding attention. Fortunately, we are grateful the impact they have on our lives in many ways.

Here are a couple of videos that provide the difference between cats and dog that my husband sent me, which I hope makes you smile: http://youtu.be/dRP9X6iCKq8  and http://youtu.be/Oq8nYgnE93Y

Until next time, I leave you with pictures of our cute cats, those of my friend Lisa, and April’s dog Doby.

Papaya and StormyPapaya and Stormy

Doby and his Toy April's Doby and His Toy

 

Papaya Puts Her Paws Down about Travel!Papaya Putting Her Paws Down about Travel!