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Hearthstone Communities highlights health benefits for seniors owning pets

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Pets not only can improve the lives of seniors, but they also have a positive impact on their health too.

People of all ages benefit from having a pet, but this is especially true for seniors.

Walking a dog not only provides an opportunity for exercise, but also the chance to socialize thanks to increased interactions with neighbors.

Studies show that heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels immediately drop after just 15 minutes of bonding with an animal. Long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and even help protect against heart disease and stroke.

"If you have a dog around, your blood pressure is lower," says Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, veterinary consultant for Good Morning America. “A lot of it goes back to reducing stress.”

Not only can your pet help improve your health, but they can help recovery time from surgery.

One study from Loyola University found that people who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery can lead to less pain medication than those who do not.

Pets can be life-changing and have a positive impact on one’s quality of life.

"Animals provide unconditional love and emotional support in a way that is unparalleled," says Judith Eisenberg, a Pet-Assisted Therapy Coordinator. "What an animal can give and teach is a powerful source of healing and personal connection."

Caring for a pet can bring structure and routine to daily life. Having a pet is a good way to stay involved in your community and make new friends.

If you are considering a move to an assisted living community and wish to bring a pet to help enhance your loved ones’ quality of life, it is important to research and find a pet-friendly community that meets your needs.

Hearthstone Communities, 920 North Seminary Avenue, Woodstock, IL 60098, 815-338-2110, www.hearthstonewoodstock.org.