Almost everyone will have owned a pet at some point in their life. Interacting with animals has been shown to boost mood and reduce stress. For the elderly, the bond they form with their pet promotes stronger physical health and mental health.
So, investing in a furry friend for your aging senior can be one of the most helpful ways to encourage them to live their best life. Studies show that companion pets for seniors have many health benefits simply by caring for them. Pets, especially dogs, may play some role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, also known as CVD.
6 Benefits of Pets for the Elderly
- Healthy behavior habits. Elderly adults who own a pet will develop a routine, therefore, feel more confident completing daily tasks.
- Improves activity. Senior adults will have the opportunity to increase their physical activity and exercise frequency by walking or playing with a pet.
- A sense of purpose. Having a pet gives the elderly a reason to get up in the morning, enhancing their mental state.
- Increases interaction. For elderly adults who own a dog, walking them regularly increases the opportunity to socialize with other dog walkers or neighbors.
- Relieves stress. Pets help increase the levels of serotonin (feel-good hormones) and calm anxiety.
- Companionship. Pets may provide a source for affection and conversation, which gives a sense of companionship for elderly adults.
As senior adults grow older, they can begin to feel more and more disconnected from those around them. The opportunity to visit with family and friends may decrease, which can lead to loneliness.
Thus, owning a pet can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to an elderly loved one’s life. If you think your senior adult would benefit from owning a pet, it would be wise to take into consideration all the questions that should be asked before they welcome one into their home.
Questions to Consider Before Your Senior Family Member Adopts a Pet
- Can they handle change? If your senior loved one is set in their ways, then they may not be able to adjust their daily routine to owning a new pet and all the obligations that come with it.
- Experienced pet owner. Taking on the responsibilities for a first-time pet owner could be too overwhelming for an aging senior.
- Choosing the right pet. It is important to research a pet’s age, temperament, size, and energy level beforehand to ensure that the animal is the best fit for your senior loved one.
- Financial stability. Pets care can be expensive, so if your senior loved one is on a fixed income, it would be wise to assess the costs to prevent the pet from becoming a financial burden.
We now know that pets are a huge benefit for the elderly, but an older pet is almost always a better choice because baby animals, such as puppies, kittens, hatchlings, etc., have more demanding care needs.
A wise option would be to consider adopting from an animal shelter or rescue since they may offer older pets at a discounted price. What’s more, an animal shelter or rescue can help to match the right pet’s temperament to your senior’s personality and lifestyle. But the ultimate choice for adopting the perfect pet depends on the connection with the animal.
Best Companion Pets for Seniors
- Cats. They do not require daily walks or constant attention, making a cat a good option for senior adults. Plus, they thrive indoors.
- Dogs. Known as a devoted companion, dogs are great for aging seniors who enjoy daily walks and playtime.
- Rabbits. Like cats, rabbits do well indoors, too, and like using a litter box. Also, they usually enjoy snuggles.
- Fish. At the very basic, fish only need a small freshwater aquarium that is easy to maintain, making fish an easy pet to care for. Older adults can even create a fun underwater theme using tank ornaments.
Adopting the right companion pets for seniors can help your loved one enjoy life more. But not all senior adults should become pet owners. Asking the right questions will help to confirm if your loved one is ready to own a pet.
Another avenue of companionship for your aging family member is Home Instead, an at-home care service in Lafayette, LA, that can assist with their day-to-day needs. We are a professional support service that allows the elderly to retain their independence while living safely in the comfort of their home.
To meet with a skilled, qualified caregiver for your aging loved one, contact Home Instead today!