Pets in our care give us a sense of responsibility—something to care for daily and something to touch physically and emotionally. It is not uncommon for seniors to feel isolated and alone. Pets often bridge the gap to lift their spirits and make them feel more connected to the world. Countless studies have shown that pets not only reduce stress for the elderly, but smile more frequently and become more social. And while they may feel that society no longer respects them, Fido and Fluffy will think they walk on water.
If you are in or approaching your senior years and are considering adopting a pet, size actually does matter. Cats and small to medium size dogs may be a better fit for seniors. While Great Danes are gentle giants, they may be too challenging to physically pick up if they are injured or sick. When adopting a new pet, it’s important to not only thing about your pet’s mature years, but also consider yours. Will you be able to handle the physical challenges of a larger dog in 10 to 15 years? If not, a cat or small to medium size dog may be a better fit.
While size matters, sometimes small packages come in bundles of energy. A Jack Russell Terrier may only weigh 15 pounds, they are known for their large personalities and high energy. JRTs tend to make their presence known 24/7. If you want to spend your golden years drinking tea and lounging with your friends, a pet with a calmer demeanor might be best suited for your lifestyle.
What is your lifestyle and what will it be in the next 10 years? Do you live in a rural area with grassy fields for playing fetch? Or will you be moving into a retirement community where your pet will mostly be inside with you most of the time? Think of how you spend your days now and what they’ll be in 10 years. Do you like to spend your time at home reading and on the computer? Then a cuddly cat might be the best fit for you. If you enjoy taking several daily walks, a dog might be your best bet.
Who will be visiting you in your senior years? Do you have a grandchild who is afraid of dogs or allergic to cats? If you enjoy these visits, make them a priority and consider them into your decision when bringing a new 4-legged friend into your home and heart.
Age of Pets
In addition to size, lifestyle and living environment, the age of your pet is important to consider. When you adopt an adult pet, you know what you’ll be getting. A kitten or puppy’s personality and behaviors won’t be certain until they mature. One of the best matches for senior people is senior pets. They just get each other.
Where to Get a Pet
Visit your local shelter for pets waiting to find their forever home. They will welcome you with open paws. Have a particular breed in mind? Most breeds have rescue organizations. Most also have mixed breeds which can have fewer health problems than purebreds. Many seniors enjoy adopting older dogs that won’t be adopted by families with children
Countless studies have shown that pets not only reduce stress for the elderly, but smile more frequently and become more social