Everyone who has ever owned a pet knows this - pets are the ones who adopt their owners, not the other way around!
And seniors are ideally placed to appeal to the discerning animal. Retired people have the time and the need to be good owners. The benefits for the senior include better health and happiness, but make sure your animal companion is well suited to your needs, circumstances and budget.
The health and emotional benefits for seniors owning a pet are well documented. Overcoming loneliness, lower blood pressure and heart risk, improving mood and a healthier brain are just some of the benefits. Not to mention having the undivided love and attention of a pal who lives in the moment and who looks to you for all things positive in their little life!
Overcoming loneliness, lower blood pressure and heart risk, improving mood and a healthier brain are just some of the benefits of owning a pet.
And that means we’re responsible for their happiness and wellbeing too; it’s not a one-way street.
And for a little animal to adopt you, then a good first step is for you to adopt one an animal previously unwanted and vulnerable from an animal shelter. Retired people can make great pet companions; they have more time to devote to loving he pet and forming a bond.
Oh, and by the way bonding with a pet can help you focus on something other than our physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss and aging. As the old saying goes, and it applies to humans I guess: “A certain amount of flees is good for a dog. It keeps him from brooding over being a dog!”
The routine of caring for a pet can give structure and purpose to daily life. Maybe you don’t always want to get out of bed, but your pet wants you to, and isn’t that a good thing?
Exercise and getting out
People benefit from regular physical exercise regardless of their age. Having a dog can be a great way to make walking a regular part of your permanent daily plans.
Having a pet, and particularly one that requires regular outdoor activity, helps you stay connected to life. There’s the vet. The place you have your dog groomed and washed. You need to be involved in social activities. Having a pet is a good way to stay involved.
Making new friends
There are lots of shared activities for pet owners, from communal walks to charitable events and projects. It can be hard to meet new people, but pets are a great icebreaker. Just look at how dog owners mix at so-called off-leash dog parks!
Having a dog can provide significant security. Potential thieves will stay away from a home with a barking dog.
Bonding with a pet can help you focus on something other than our physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss and aging.
- Is the senior set in their ways?
Adopting an animal usually affects a person’s whole daily routine. Are you up to it?
- Have they had a pet before?
It’s best if the elderly person is an experienced owner. However, if they are open to a new and rewarding commitment, then first-timers can still make great owners.
- Does the senior have any disabilities or functional limitations?
Pets, especially dogs and cats can be a challenge for owners with mobility issues. If taking a dog outside and walking it is too trying, lower-maintenance animals like cats and birds may be preferable.
- Would a therapeutic or emotional support animal be beneficial?
If a person is very infirm or impaired, they may be a candidate for a specially trained therapy dog to help them function both at home and while on outings.
- What age pet would be best?
A puppy or kitten may not be ideal for elderly owners because of the intensive care and training they require. Furthermore, young pets may outlive their owners.
- What temperament would be a good fit for the senior?
Research different breeds’ characteristics and interact with prospective adoptees to get a feel for their energy levels and personality. And don’t kid yourself that little is best. Little dogs can be very, very, very high energy and require a great deal of effort and commitment.
- Is the pet healthy?
It’s important that any pet be examined by a professional prior to adoption. You don’t want to compromise your immune system since some pets carry diseases. Unhealthy pets can be difficult for seniors to handle both emotionally and financially.
- Are finances an issue?
Pets are a significant long-term financial commitment. A low-maintenance animal like a fish is less expensive. Consider your budget before taking home any animal.
- Is there a backup plan in place for the pet?
It isn’t pleasant to think about, but owners must plan for the unexpected for their pets, too. If a senior had to go to the hospital, spend time in a short-term rehabilitation facility, move to a long-term care community or even passes away, what would happen to their animal(s)?