How can pets reduce loneliness?
Bringing a pet into your home can provide a whole range of different benefits to both your physical and mental wellbeing. Not only can they help to keep you active and get out and about, but a pet of any description can also provide companionship, especially for people living independently.
As reported in this guide to the impact of pets on health and wellbeing, 84% of pet owners reported that their animal companions helped them to feel less lonely. But what is it in particular about our furry friends that helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness?
Pets provide their owners with companionship, love, and loyal support. They are always happy to see us, no matter what kind of day we’ve had. They provide us with an outlet for play and affection, and they offer us unconditional love. In return, they ask only for our care and attention. For many people, pets fulfil a need for connectedness that might otherwise go unmet.
Pets can help reduce loneliness and isolation in seniors, promote bonding in families, and provide children with a sense of responsibility. In this post, we delve deeper into some of the ways in which pets can help to reduce loneliness in their owners, to help improve mental wellbeing and their general quality of life.
Companionship and independence
Partially sighted and blind people have long known the benefits of owning a pet. At the most basic level, having a creature to spend time with can offer a level of companionship when they don’t have anyone else to talk to on a daily basis. In addition to providing companionship, pets can offer much-needed assistance with everyday tasks and can help to build confidence and independence. For example, a guide dog can provide critical support when navigating busy streets or unfamiliar terrain, while a cat or dog can offer comfort and companionship when living alone.
They can also help their owners to lead more active lifestyles, which is important for both physical and mental health. Guide dogs are especially beneficial for those who are blind, as they can help their owners to navigate their surroundings and live relatively independent lives.
Just being in a social setting outside of the home can be challenging for partially sighted and blind people. In this way, guide dogs can be an invaluable resource that can enable these people to enjoy the social interactions to help reduce feelings of loneliness.
Improving social interactions
Besides being able to provide physical support when out in a social setting, pets can also serve as a great communication tool. Whether you’re telling someone about what your pet’s been up to, or meet a fellow owner out and about, talking about your furry friend is a great way to instigate conversations and even meet new people.
Studies have shown that people who own pets experience stronger ties with their neighbours. They are more likely to strike up conversations with strangers, with pets being a natural ice breaker. So, if you’re looking to improve your social life, consider getting a pet. Not only will you gain a loyal friend, but you might just make some new ones along the way.
Providing a routine
Another key benefit of pet ownership is, whether subconsciously or not, animals can instil a greater sense of routine and responsibility that can help to structure your days. This added sense of purpose could be particularly valuable to senior pet owners, who may otherwise lack an excuse to get out of the house on a daily basis. Whether it’s preparing their meals, taking them out for a walk, or simply spending some time in their company, the mere presence of an animal in the household can instantly improve your lifestyle and go a long way to preventing loneliness affecting your wellbeing.
Could a pet help you?
As we’ve explored, it’s clear that owning a pet can make an enormous difference to an individual’s quality of life, with pets being a great companion which ultimately helps to reduce loneliness. If you are considering getting a pet, do your research first to find the right fit for you and your lifestyle. There are many benefits to owning a pet, but it’s important to make sure you are ready for the responsibility before taking the plunge.