Seniors and Pets: A Mutually Beneficial Friendship

November is National Adopt an Older Pet Month. While people who are considering adopting an animal from a local shelter tend to focus on puppies and kittens, there are plenty of reasons to make a senior pet part of your family. That’s especially true for older adults.

Let’s take a look at the benefits associated with owning a pet, and how to go about choosing one that is a good fit for you or a senior loved one.

3 Reasons Pets Make Great Companions for Seniors

  1. Provide love and devotion: Animals tend to be loyal critters who stick by those they love through thick and thin. They provide a non-judgmental, listening ear on tough days, and companionship when you are feeling down. For seniors who might be self-isolating due to fears of COVID-19, having a pet can be ideal. If you are grieving the loss of a spouse or other loved one, a pet can be a therapist while you are healing. Pets give us purpose and meaning.
  2. Help lower stress: In 2020 most people had to deal with not only the daily stresses of life but high anxiety. Finding natural ways to manage it is important for overall well-being. Research shows that pets aid in managing both stress and blood pressure. The very act of petting your furry friend is calming.
  3. Promote activity: Pets keep us moving! An older pet’s energy might strike just the right balance for a senior. They need a walk most days but are calmer than a puppy who needs more exercise. Walking is a great way to help avoid the dangers associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It’s generally a safe form of exercise for people of all ages, including older adults. Taking a few laps around the block or a favorite trail at the park builds stamina, balance, and core strength while also reducing the risk for depression.

Tips for Seniors Considering a Pet

First, be mindful of your budget. Some breeds of cats and dogs are high maintenance and more expensive to own. Long-haired dogs, for example, tend to need frequent grooming that can take a bite out of your budget. Before you adopt a pet, make sure you have a good handle on what expenses you’ll encounter.

Next, research the animal’s disposition and needs. A high-energy breed like a Jack Russell Terrier, even an older one, usually requires more exercise than other breeds. Also take your home environment into consideration. If you don’t have outdoor living space or easy access to a park, a cat may be a better choice than a dog.

Finally, look beyond furry friends. Some older adults find birds make good companions. They are low maintenance but also entertaining and fun to watch. A great article by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Selecting a Pet Bird, might help you decide whether a bird would be a suitable match for you or a senior loved one. 

Emergency Assistance Wherever You Are

If you are fearful of experiencing a fall when you are out walking your pet alone, a mobile monitoring device might be the solution. With the press of a button, you can summon help from wherever you are. Call 1-844-203-5617 to learn more today!