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Home >> Pets And Loneliness  

 Pets And Loneliness

You may not think of getting a dog or a cat in the same way you do as filling a prescription for cardiac drugs, but the right pet can offer a wealth of heart-healthy benefits. Perhaps you owned a dog as a child, and were delighted in frolicking with your pet. Upon becoming an adult, you put such joys aside as childish. If that is the case, think again.

Numerous studies have shown that pets can benefit people in a number of heart-healthy ways. Studies have shown that pet owners are more likely to survive for at least a year after being discharged from a coronary care unit. Studies have shown that playing with pets can reduce stress, lower higher blood pressure, and even result in a reduction in minor health problems. Studies have also shown that having a pet can help overcome depression. Experts believe this is because of the unconditional love and acceptance that animals offer their owners. If you live alone, even a canary or parakeet can be a welcome companion.

If you need to get more exercise, again, think of pets. Owning a dog can be a great incentive for taking that daily walk. Not only does the dog expect it, but you get companionship as well. If you are considering a pet, here are some things to keep in mind:
Keeping a puppy can be an arduous task. You may prefer to skip the rambunctious puppy years in favor of an older dog. You will be doing that dog a great favor, as puppies are often adopted, but lovely, older dogs languish in animal shelters. This is true for kittens as well.

Some organizations sponsor programmes in which pets are provided free, especially for senior citizens.
If you live in an apartment for senior citizens, make sure that pets are allowed. There is nothing more heartbreaking than having to give up your pet. Consider your living arrangements. If you have the room, and prefer a large dog, go ahead. If you live in an apartment, remember, a toy poodle can be as bright hearted as a German shepherd. Consider a mixed-breed dog as well.

Even if you want a pure-bred dog, do not overlook dog shelters. You would be surprised at how many pure-bred dogs, some even with pedigrees, end up in the shelter, because their owners would have moved or had to give them up for some particular reason.

If you are certain a pet is for you, and you have the means to care for it, do not let comments of others deter you. People who do not understand the joy of pet ownership themselves may raise their eyebrows and infer that you are in a second childhood. Ignore them — it is probably just pet envy!
If you are considering a dog or a cat, read up their temperaments. If you do adopt a pet, remember, it can take up to a month or so for both of you to learn to accommodate each other. Like any new relationship, give it time. The results can be very rewarding.


These days there seem to be support groups for everyone. Whether you are a compulsive eater, shopper, or talker, you can probably find your own support group. But there may be no more important a group than the support group you join for the health of your heart.

Across the country there are thousands of cardiac support groups or 'heart clubs' awaiting you. In some cases, they may be affiliated with a cardiac rehabilitation programme, but you do not necessarily have to be enrolled in the formal rehab programme to join. They may be held in a local hospital, but you do not necessarily have to be a former patient.

Such groups have widely varying activities. Often, the topics deal with heart care and lifestyle changes. Local cardiologists, health authors and dietitians may give talks on their areas of expertise.
Support groups can vary a lot in character. Some groups are more serious, and offer lectures, while others are more social, and might schedule a 'heart healthy' Christmas dinner at a local restaurant. While, some groups are a mixture of both.

You may want to meet several groups before you find one where you feel most comfortable too. Groups can differ according to their members, and you may need to find the right personality mix. Experiment. You will find yourself richly rewarded with a new set of friends, people who know what you are going through, and value your experience as well.


There is a great deal to be said for that old adage, 'Helping others makes it harder to dwell on your own troubles.' You can gain great satisfaction from becoming a volunteer, and help others in the process as well.

People become volunteers for all sorts of reasons. You may be a recent retiree, and find yourself bored. Your job may provide you with a pay check, but not emotional satisfaction. You may be contemplating a job change, and want a sample of your new career. Or you may want to meet new people. You may shy away from volunteering because you are afraid you do not have any skills. Just being able to greet people on the telephone with a warm, friendly voice is a skill. So is addressing envelopes, transporting an elderly person, or cuddling a baby in a neonatal ward of a hospital.

Do you crave culture? Many regional theatre and music groups are delighted to provide free tickets to people in exchange for ushering. Do you want to work with children? Many school systems, strapped for funds, are delighted to have volunteers offer their expertise everywhere from the arts and crafts room to the school library. Some hospitals have even started programmes where people can purchase 'credit' towards future medical costs by volunteering!

Although you may not realize it, one area in which you have plenty of expertise is heart disease. After all, you have not only experienced heart disease, but hopefully, you have made positive changes in your lifestyle as well. Sharing your experience with others can provide them with inspiration as well as give you the determination to keep up your gains. Patients about to undergo heart surgery are often starved for personal contact. They get medical information from their doctor, but they want to draw encouragement from your first hand experience.

The important thing is to give a small 'part' of yourself. In doing so, you truly can forget your own problems, widen your perspectives, and meet other wonderful people doing just what you are doing.

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