Living with a pet is always a positive experience. And for senior citizens, having a pet effectively increases good health benefits.
Pet owners are generally more active because their pets require it. Dog owners in particular must walk their dogs and both benefit from the exercise. Pets give senior citizens emotional support, especially those who don’t have any other means of social involvement like family and friends. Loneliness leads to depression which can lead to illness. Pets provide unconditional love, laughter and friendship which helps seniors remain emotionally healthy. Pets also give seniors a feeling of security and independence. And all people need to feel the touch of a living being. Petting and hugging a pet fulfills that need.
There are programs that bring service dogs (and sometimes cats) to homes for the aged and to hospitals and like facilities. It has been proven that these pets bring cheer and a feeling of well-being to those they visit. And pet ownership and visits can help lower blood pressure.
There is an organization, “Pets for the Elderly Foundation“, that assists in pet adoption for people over 60 years of age. They help to pay adoption fees at participating shelters including pre-adoption veterinary care and spay or neuter if included in the fee. Donations made to this organization not only save the lives of pets, but assist seniors in overcoming one of the worst diseases of age – loneliness.
Questions to Consider:
Of course before a senior citizen adopts a pet, there are questions to consider.
- Are you physically able to care for a pet – walking, cleaning up after the pet and so on.
- If you travel often and can’t take your pet with you, can you make arrangements for someone to pet-sit?
- Can you afford a pet financially, ie food, veterinary cost, etc.?
- Can you make arrangements for the care of your pet in case of your illness?
- And our pets are not as long-lived as we are. Can you manage the stress of losing a pet?
Consider all the responsibilities of pet ownership. If you believe that you are able physically, emotionally and financially to give a pet a home, you will find it a most rewarding experience.