As you continue to age, many seniors struggle to find motivation during the later years of life. Sometimes days can become very gloomy and lonely. Adding a dog, cat, or other animal companion to your everyday life can make a big difference in your mental and emotional health.
Pets for seniors can turn lives around, but it’s important to be realistic about your capabilities for caring for an animal as well. Read below to see our suggestions on if a pet is a good idea for you!
Benefits of Having a Pet
The number one benefit of a pet is the joy that they bring. It’s the reason that so many people have pets—or want to have one if they don’t currently. But, especially in the case of seniors, a pet can be so much more than just a playful friend.
Pets help seniors feel less alone, and you can experience daily love through the devotion of an animal companion. Pets can also help seniors stay active, by helping you stick to a routine and move around your home, get up at specific times, and get out of the house to buy food and toys to take care of the pet. Animals like dogs also help you get outdoors and socialize with other people.
Types of Pets for Seniors
All animals provide a sense of purpose, love, and happiness that all people, especially seniors, can benefit from. But what type of animal friend is best for you?
Dogs are a great companion animal for seniors. After all, they are man's best friend! Dogs encourage seniors to walk, play, and stay active. Certain small breeds of dogs can also be picked up and carried, helping you build and maintain muscle. Small dogs are generally a good idea for seniors, as they aren’t as strong and make great lap pets. In the same vein, older dogs are much less work than energetic and excitable puppies.
If you want a pet that is a little more low-maintenance than a dog, a cat is a great choice for seniors. Cats like to cuddle and have distinct personalities, but don’t take as much time and energy to care for and are generally quieter and cleaner than dogs. They also are a great choice for seniors who don’t have any outdoor space at their residence.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance pet, then there is no better option than a fish. While you can’t pet or play with fish, they still provide seniors with a schedule and routine for daily feeding and cleaning the tank. Too many fish and large tanks can be a burden for seniors, so a few fish in a 5-10 gallon tank is often the best choice.
Many seniors enjoy having an avian companion, as birds are colorful, pretty, and play around with toys without as much hands-on care as a dog or cat needs. Some types of birds are able to mimic words, so you have an animal friend that talks back! However, birds still need specific cleaning and feeding routines, so it’s important that seniors understand how to care for a bird before buying one.
Exercise Caution Before Making a Decision
While pets provide a lot of benefits to seniors, they are also a lot of work. It’s important for seniors to understand their limitations before making a long-term decision like buying an animal. Pets can take up a lot of energy and time, and if you can’t provide those, it might not be a good idea to have one.
Pets can also become expensive, so it’s important that you know you have the money in your budget to pay for food, toys, vet bills, cleaning supplies, and treats before purchasing an animal friend.
Finally, while it’s not fun to think about, there is always the possibility as a senior that your pet may end up outliving you. Take into consideration who would pick up the responsibility of an animal in the case of an emergency, and make sure that any pet you pick will fit into their lives as well.
Pets at Assisted Living Communities
If you want an animal companion, but aren’t sure you can handle the responsibility of caring for one on your own, consider a community pet at an assisted living home! While some assisted living communities are pet-friendly and you can bring your own friend along with you, others have animals for residents to share and enjoy together.
As you age in place at assisted living, you can enjoy all the benefits of a pet without having to worry about taking care of the upkeep, feeding, and housing of the animal. It’s all of the fun of having a pet without any of the work!
Interested in assisted living? Download our free eBook, “Finding Home” today!