Home alert systems and pendants are increasingly popular among older adults who live alone, but Judy Muhe says that when she took a tumble in her kitchen, her survival depended on a couple of furry, flesh-and-blood heroes — her two Golden Retrievers, Higgins and Dodger.
“The main thing is they let me know I was not alone,” an emotional Muhe tells KABC News’ Leo Stallworth.
With Higgins snuggling up against her back and Dodger curled over her legs, Muhe, who is 76 years old and has Parkinson’s disease, was able to stay warm for 48 hours while she was trapped on her kitchen floor, unable to get up due to a shattered shoulder and bruised skull.
“My guardians, yep. And I have no doubt they would do it again,” Muhe says of her two golden guardian angels.
The health benefits of animals
Canines may carry the moniker of being “man’s best friend” but animals of all kinds can provide physical and mental health benefits to people both young and old.
Lower blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduced depression risk, and increased amounts of the feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine are just a few of the advantages experienced by pet owners. One study even indicated that aging individuals with pets went to the doctor 30 percent less frequently than their non-pet-owning counterparts. Many different species–from horses, to geese, to rabbits–have been used as therapy animals for men and women in senior living communities.
Older adults especially derive great advantages from pet ownership, but there are a few complicating factors that can arise. For instance, people who have trouble walking or whose strength isn’t what it used to be may not be able to safely handle a larger pet. And the memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia could unintentionally cause an older adult to forget to feed or care for their pet.
The good news is that such limitations can be dealt with, enabling aging men and women to find the ideal animal companion, as Amy Kracht, Vice President of 4 Luv of Dog Rescue shares in the article: How to Pick a Pet for an Older Adult
Image credit: Screen shot from KABC News report