Is adopting a senior pet the right decision for you or an older loved one? Here are a few things to consider.
To live a meaningful life, it’s essential to have someone who counts on you and offers you emotional support in return. For many of us, pets fulfill that role. They are a source of companionship and affection, especially for older adults. Having a pet can give retirees a sense of purpose after their kids are grown and gone.
If you are contemplating adopting a cat or dog for yourself or a senior loved one, you picked a good month. November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. In honor of this annual recognition, we explore the role pets can play in our lives. We also discuss how adopting an older pet might help seniors.
4 Benefits of Owning a Pet during Retirement
Older adults who are pet owners enjoy many health benefits, from increased exercise to better mental health. Owning a furry companion can:
- Encourage socialization: Walking a dog is a great way to meet and make friends with the neighbors. This is a big plus for seniors who commonly find their social circle shrinking. We know isolation and loneliness can be a health risk for older adults. It increases the risk for everything from diabetes to obesity.
- Provide purpose: Having a pet to care for provides a sense of purpose, which can be tough to find for seniors who are retired and live alone. Knowing you have a pal who is counting on you for walks and meals is important.
- Lower stress: The simple act of petting a cat’s fur or scratching a dog behind the ears has been proven to lower stress. For a senior with a chronic health condition or an older adult who is grieving, pets can be very therapeutic.
- Improve health: According to the American Heart Association, pets are good for your physical and mental well-being. Having an animal to love and care for aids in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Research also shows that seniors who have a pet exercise more and experience less depression.
Before you head for the local animal shelter, however, there are a few factors to consider.
Should You Adopt a Senior Pet?
First, think about your or the senior’s budget. Are the expenses associated with a furry friend manageable? Some types of pets are more expensive than others. For example, long-haired cats and dogs have to be groomed more often, and that isn’t cheap. Veterinary bills also need to be considered, particularly for animals known to need extra care or those with special needs.
A few other issues to keep in mind if you are thinking of adopting a senior pet include:
- Temperament: Research any animal you are contemplating bringing home. Is their temperament compatible with your or your senior loved one’s lifestyle and needs? For example, a high-energy dog like a Jack Russell or a Boxer might be too much for an older adult, even if the dog is a bit older.
- Living space: Take the senior’s living situation into account as well. A cat might be better for an older adult who has limited outdoor space or doesn’t live near a dog park. On the downside, cats won’t keep a senior as active as a dog.
Many local shelters have websites you can use to view animals that are up for adoption, as well as learn about the process and paperwork you must complete to become a pet parent.
Life Enrichment at The Wesley Community
Another avenue for staying active and engaged with life is moving to a senior living community. With daily events and activities to choose from, you’ll enjoy a lifestyle that is as busy as you want it to be. We offer independent and assisted living, as well as skilled nursing and dementia care, on our beautiful, pet friendly campus in the heart of Saratoga Springs, New York. Call us today at (518) 587-3600 to learn more!