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Actively Aging: The benefit of pets

Menomonie (WQOW) – Playful pups or cuddly kittens are fun to have, but they can serve a rather important purpose in the life of someone 55 or older.

Steve and Nancy Jackson recently adopted their dog Caspian from the Dunn County Humane Society at a discounted rate, thanks to a program called called “Pets for Seniors and Vets.”

“What it is, is a subsidy program to help senior citizens and veterans get pets home,” said Josh Dalton, the director of the humane society, “There’s actually a lot of studies that show that pets in the home can really have a positive effect.”

Caspian needs training, but his presence has proved positive in his new Menomonie home.

“He spends time out in the shop with me and stuff,” said Steve Jackson, one of Caspian’s owners.

“To give us a diversion from every day life,” said Nancy Jackson, one of Caspian’s owners.

It’s undeniable, pets make great companions, but even doctors say there are health benefits association with having one.

“Research does show that there’s some positive effect on blood pressure, mood, even some high cholesterol improvement,” said Dr. Jennifer Strong, with the Family Medicine department at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Animals often will get folks more active, but also some companionship, socialization, people like to talk about their pets to other people as well.”

It’s like bragging about family, after all, that’s what pets become.

“Nancy and I, our children are mostly out of the house,” Steve said.

“It helps to have someone to come home to, somebody to come home to other than your spouse,” Nancy said.

It’s a win-win for both parties.

“They get someone that they can love, and the pet gets someone that they can love and everyone is happy,” Dalton said.

While there are many benefits to having a pet, there are a few things to be cautious about before getting one. Allergy issues are one example, or if you have a hard time with balance and are prone to falling, you wouldn’t want a pet to become a potential hazard. There are many different options for pets, so check with your local humane society for help if you are interested in getting one.

Bridget Curran

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