Pets can play an important role in our lives as we age. Part of the sense of self-esteem is obviously the consciousness of being useful. Pets, therefore, make it possible also for older people to satisfy such needs by enabling them to look after somebody, yes, to have to look after somebody and to take responsibility for somebody.
Surveys show that seniors feel their pets give them the "feeling of being useful", of "being able to look after somebody", of "not being alone and isolated". Moreover, a dog, for instance, would help to "forget oneself and ones problems" and to "live one's free time in a meaningful and interesting way". All these arguments are of great importance for people reaching later chapters of their lives.
Since then numerous scientific investigations regarding the interactions between the senior human being and his pet have been carried out all over the world. These not only confirmed over and over again the results of that "budgerigar study" but also showed additional positive effects of pets on older people:
Pets help to fight against apathy and indifference. Older people start to get interested again to a greater extent in events in their vicinity and in their surroundings.
They help to get over sad events by representing, for instance a living role model to a passed away person or by becoming a new objective for affection.
They prevent or reduce absent-mindedness or bewilderment by communicating the sense of time and by maintaining a rhythm of the day.
Depressions can be avoided because the pet owner has to take care of other things than only of himself and his own problems.
Psychological and physical inadequacy can be borne much easier if a pet shares one's life.
Pets encourage their owner to physical activity. Be it by playing with them, feeding them, cultivating hygiene or going on a walk with them.
Pets give safety, this particularly to persons who are living alone. Already the barking of a dog helps to keep unwelcome visitors away.
And last but not least: Pets amuse us, make us laugh, improve our moral. Pets need love, companionship and attention no different than the rest of us. They are there in most cases because either no one wanted them any longer, or were dumped having been through a horrific ordeal.