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Do you know a senior citizen who needs a dog? Four-legged friends can help elderly people in all sorts of ways, but adopting a dog may not be an idea they come up with on their own.

So, how can you tell whether or not your parents, grandparents, or an elderly neighbor would benefit from the presence of a dog in his or her life? Look for the signs!

Loneliness and isolation
Many seniors, even those who are fully mobile and can still drive, tend to become more and more isolated and lonely as they age. This is especially true if they lose their partner or don’t have family close by.

Adopting a dog can be a buffer against this. Studies have shown that they can help people get out more and feel more comfortable approaching other people.

You never clean or do laundry
While most probably wouldn’t consider this a bad thing, if your parent or grandparent is so bored that they’re constantly cooking and cleaning for you, it’s probably a sign that they need something to occupy their time — and someone to take care of. A dog can fill both of these roles.

They start to become forgetful
It’s no secret that a lot of us start to lose our mental faculties the older we get. Experts have found that dogs slow down this process and can even help people with dementia to live better lives by keeping them on schedule and comforting them when they are distressed.

You never get to feed, walk, or even play with your own dog
Sometimes older people who don’t have a pet can quickly fall in love with their canine “grandchildren,” even if they’re not actually related to the owners!

In some cases, they even take over daily responsibilities for the dog, yet never even consider the idea that they could have their own pet.

If a senior citizen whom you know is willing and able to care for a dog, studies show that are numerous benefits for their health:

  • Fewer visits to the doctor. Older dog parents average one fewer visit to their doctor than those who don’t have a canine companion.
  • Less depression. Many seniors suffer from depression as they age, and the positive energy of a dog can help combat that.
  • More exercise. Walks do more than get people to socialize — they get them to exercise, which becomes increasingly important the older we get because it can strengthen muscles and prevent bones from losing mass as quickly.
  • Minimize risk of heart problems. The evidence is anecdotal, but it’s still there — dog owners have fewer heart problems. Why? Well, it probably has a lot to do with all that walking they do and all that stress they don’t have.

Dogs can even be trained to detect cancer, low blood sugar, and seizures, so if you know an older person who is at risk from any of these problems, a dog really might just be their best friend.

Does a senior in your life have dogs? What is it like for them? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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