I hear it all the time: “I am too old to get a pet.” And every time I hear it, my response is always the same. Nobody is too old to experience the love and joy a pet brings to your life. My first pet, SHERPA, was a Lhasa Apso that I adopted when I was in my 30s. The first time I held her, I felt warmth in my heart and a loving connection. At that moment, I did not know how much I would rely on SHERPA for more solace than I could ever imagine. Shortly after getting SHERPA, my fiancé passed away and my life was turned upside down. My only consolation was SHERPA’s unconditional love. It was then that I fully understood how beneficial pets are to humans and I have never been without one since. Now, my two dogs, KoKo and KARTU, make life even better by not only the love they give me but also the health benefits I gain by just having them around!
Finding out that my fiancé’s death was a result of a massive heart attack caused me to become even more conscious of heart health. I have always embraced a healthy diet and regularly exercised —in fact, my first job was working at Jack LaLanne’s, the first exercise fitness club—and I am very aware that as we age, our chances of having heart disease or a heart attack increases. But did you know that owning a pet, especially a dog, may help keep your heart healthy according to a Mayo Clinic study? One researcher involved with the study said, “In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet, and blood sugar at ideal level. The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.” KoKo and KARTU don’t even realize they could be as helpful as my yoga practice and nutritious meals are in keeping my heart healthy… but I do! And now so do you!
The last few years have taken a mental toll on many people, especially seniors. In a recent survey of 3,800 people over the age of 65, more than a third of respondents reported an increased sense of loneliness or isolation related to the pandemic. I found it very difficult to stop traveling (especially to my beloved Paris!) and spend time alone in my home away from the many friends, social gatherings, conferences, and work meetings during the pandemic. While lonelier, I was never truly lonely because of the companionship I had from KoKo and KARTU. A study in Aging & Mental Health found that pet ownership provided companionship, fostered a sense of purpose and meaning, reduced loneliness and increased socialization in people over 65.
As I transitioned from running a multi-million-dollar corporation to stepping back into a consultant role, I wanted to ensure that I still maintained a daily routine as I know there are many benefits for seniors. Pets can help create a daily routine (or maintain one) because they require your attention throughout the day for feeding, walking, grooming, or playing with them! KoKo and KARTU are a part of my everyday routine, and it brings me joy to love and care for them daily.
Of course, pets are an enormous responsibility, so take some serious consideration before choosing to add one to your household. It is important to think about which type of pet would be a good match, such as a dog or cat; the pros and cons of different breeds and sizes, and how one may fit your lifestyle better than another. There are professionals who can help you find what works best for you, at any age. You are never too old to be loved! If you have any pet-related questions, feel free to reach out to me!
Gayle Martz is the SilverDisobedience Pet Ambassador who will be sharing her insight on a variety of pet-related topics. Gayle is the founder of The SHERPA Pet Trading Company, where she single-handedly designed, manufactured and marketed the iconic SHERPA Bag you see everywhere! This carrier, which millions have bought for their dogs, cats and other animal companions, continues to be THE top-selling, prize-winning, globally-popularly soft-sided pet carrier. Further, it is because of Gayle’s advocacy and entrepreneurship that pet travel on airlines is now possible and common. Gayle’s the author of “IT’S IN THE BAG”, which is part memoir and part business book.