When we’re little kids yearning for a puppy, we’re often asked if the joy we get from companionship is worth the responsibilities associated with caring for an animal. As we grow into adulthood, this balance continues to hold true and evolve for different circumstances in life. It can be easy to assume that for a person already struggling with a chronic illness, the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to permanently inviting a pet into the home. However, we shouldn’t overlook the benefit of building up a support system that might include a furry, or even scaly, friend.
While it would be hasty to say that every person suffering from a debilitating condition would benefit from animal companionship, taking the time to consider the positive outcomes associated with pets is an important part of the equation. Though there may be a need for increased care to avoid potential health-related pitfalls, many doctors agree that these are far from insurmountable obstacles.
Some scientific research has indicated a link between better health outcomes in people who have pets at home. Perhaps it’s a dog that gets you out for regular walks or a cat that loves to sit next to you when you’re feeling down. You can’t visit a hospital these days without seeing a therapy animal patiently plodding through the halls on their way to make someone’s day brighter.
For those who have become confined to their home with their disability, this companionship can be a vital part of their daily life. Isolation is a real issue facing the chronically ill, even those who are able to maintain personal relationships. Managing the mental health side of physical disabilities is vital to proper care, and pets can be another way to help with depressive symptoms.
Finding the energy to get outside when you’re suffering from conditions that sap your energy, such as Lyme disease, is a constant battle. Daily habits that involve low-impact forms of physical activity can have far-reaching benefits on long-term health and happiness. Exercise can even help with relieving the pain associated with conditions like fibromyalgia.
Perhaps the least tangible but most important part of this is that pets can give a patient with a chronic illness a sense of purpose. Caring for another creature can help remind someone that they’re capable of so much even in the face of adversity and that they deserve the type of unconditional love that a pet can provide.
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