Pets And Older People: Why They’re A Match Made In Heaven
Let’s Be honest. Getting older can be a very lonely experience. Family and friends move away or pass away, and leaving the house and participating in once-loved activities becomes increasingly difficult.
Pets, however, can provide us middle-aged people with countless benefits including comfort and companionship.
Ownership of a pet has many benefits for older people
Not least, our stress can be reduced, blood pressure can be lowered, social interaction can be increased, and physical activity can be increased with animals.
Additionally, pets can alleviate loneliness and depression symptoms.
“Older pet owners have often told us how lonely and barren their lives would be without their pets’ companionship, even when owning an active pet had its downsides,” says Linda Anderson, who started the Angel Animals Network with her husband, Allen, to raise awareness about pet ownership’s benefits.
In her experience, people with memory loss who interact with animals can regain access to old memories. Having a pet helps seniors focus on something other than physical problems or negative preoccupations about death or aging.”
Seniors who adopt older pets can also benefit from adoption.
From the pound to paradise, these lucky animals have found their way to a better life. With lots of time to devote, retired adopters often form lasting bonds with previously unwanted pets,” says Chicago veterinarian Dr. Tony Kremer, who runs Help Save Pets, a nonprofit rescue organization.
What to look for when choosing a pet for an elderly person
While pet ownership has many benefits, there are also some downsides to consider before adopting a furry friend. Before welcoming a pet into the family, Dr. Donnenfeld advises older people and caregivers to talk thoroughly about pet ownership.
The 10 Most Important Questions to Ask When Considering a Pet
- Is the potential owner accustomed to their ways?
“If your loved one is not a fan of change, they may not be a good candidate. It affects a person’s whole daily routine when they adopt an animal.
- Have they ever owned a pet?
An elderly person should be an experienced pet owner. First-timers, however, can still make great owners if they are open to a new and rewarding commitment.
- Is there any disability or functional limitation affecting the senior?
The companionship of a dog can encourage seniors to exercise. People with limited mobility may find it difficult to handle dogs. Lower-maintenance animals such as cats and birds may be a better choice if walking a dog is too difficult.
- What are the benefits of having a therapeutic or emotional support animal?
It may be possible for someone who is very infirm or impaired to benefit from a specially trained therapy dog to help them function both at home and on outings.
- Is there an ideal age for pets?
Due to the intensive care and training required by puppies and kittens, they may not be ideal for elderly owners. In addition, young pets may outlive their owners. A bird, for example, can live for a very long time. However, senior pets tend to be well-trained and may even have their own physical limitations.
- Is the temperament of the senior a good match?
Getting a feel for the energy level and personality of prospective adoptees requires research on the different breeds’ characteristics. Many older people might think they’d do better with a Jack Russell Terrier because it’s a small breed, but they are extremely, very, very high energy and require a lot of effort and commitment. Every animal is unique, even if there are some general truths about specific breeds.
- Does the pet seem healthy?
A professional examination is essential before adopting any pet. According to Dr. Katharine Hillestad, a veterinarian based in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, some pets carry diseases that can compromise an older person’s immune system. The emotional and financial burden of owning an unhealthy pet can be overwhelming for seniors.
- How many pets do you want?
The company of multiple pets can keep an older person company, but it may not be a good idea for them. Rather than bonding with their owners, two animals might bond with each other.
- Do you have financial concerns?
There is a significant financial commitment involved in owning a pet. It costs more than $810 to feed, medicate, groom, and play with a small puppy just in its first year. Low-maintenance animals like fish are less expensive, coming in at about $235, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If a senior plans to take home an animal, be sure to carefully consider their current budget.
- How will the pet be taken care of if there is a problem?
Though it’s unpleasant to think about, pet owners must be prepared for the unexpected. In the event that a senior had to undergo surgery, rehabilitation, or move to a long-term care facility, what would happen to their animal(s)? In the event that they passed away, what would happen?
- Our golden years can be very unpredictable, so it’s important to have a contingency plan in place for our furry and feathered friends before an emergency strikes. It is possible for beloved animals to end up back in shelters without one.
A Senior’s Guide to Finding a Pet
The added benefit of adopting from a shelter is that you are giving an unwanted animal a home and possibly saving it from euthanasia. Breeders are also a great source of animals, but adopting from a shelter is usually much less expensive.
Older pets and adopters may be eligible for reduced adoption fees at some shelters. The best way to gauge whether a potential pet will fit your family is to meet them in person.