Pets bring great joy to their owners. The unconditional love of cats and dogs appeals to people of all ages. While many people associate pets with children who can’t wait to welcome the first cat or dog into their homes, pets can also benefit aging men and women.
It’s not uncommon for seniors to feel lonely or depressed when they retire, move away with their children, or lose a spouse or close friend or friends. The American Humane Society states that studies show that pets help seniors overcome loneliness and depression by providing affection, company, and entertainment. Pets also provide much-needed mental stimulation, and many pet owners find that their pets help them become more physically active, too.
Seniors who adopt pets may also feel purposeful in helping animals that may have nowhere to live. This is especially true for older pets, which many young families are understandably reluctant to adopt. Older pets may be ideal for seniors. When seniors want to adopt a pet, there are a number of reasons why older pets or certain animals might be a perfect match for them.
• Adult pets may already be home trained, saving seniors the trouble and hassle of training them.
• Seniors may find that cats are more a fit with their lifestyle than dogs because cats are less active and do not require as much walking or playing as dogs. Cats are also small and easy to maneuver, meaning that even seniors with arthritis or other physical disabilities can easily groom cats. Many cats are also content with sleeping on their owners’ laps for long periods of time.
• Small dogs that can be active around the house may also be a good idea, especially for seniors with mobility issues. They can also be easily transported to and from veterinary appointments.
It is important for seniors to carefully weigh the benefits of adopting a pet against potential limitations. A backup plan for maintenance is also beneficial. Seniors should not adopt a pet if they expect frequent travel or medical care that requires long periods of absence.