Many studies are finding that having a pet benefits your health. For seniors there are extra benefits. Some doctors are finding that spending time with a pet is more beneficial than spending time with people. The most popular pets tend to be dogs and cats though there are many other choices. Some seniors prefer birds or iguanas. Even fish can be beautiful and provide tranquility if you have several in a tank.
What are the main benefits of owning a pet?
- The major benefit of owning a pet if you are a senior is to help combat loneliness and isolation. Many seniors don’t have the opportunity to interact with others on a regular basis. Dogs in particular love you even at your worst. Cats are usually cuddlers and will hang around when you aren’t feeling well.
- A pet gives you a reason to get up every morning, quite often a lot earlier than you like! They need attention and need to be looked after. They depend on you. When you pay attention to something other than yourself it combats depression and stress. Holding and petting your dog, cat or other pet helps to lower your blood pressure and calm you.
- If your pet needs regular outdoor activity or walking you’ll always have a reason to get outside and get some exercise. It’s also a good way to meet other people with pets.
- There are many pets that are chosen to help with specific disabilities such as failing eyesight.
Before purchasing a pet, there are things you should take into consideration.
What is your activity level?
If you have mobility problems or if you live in a tiny apartment, a dog may not be a good choice. They need to get out for a walk each day and also be too lively for someone who has problems with movement. For the same reason a cat might get underfoot and cause you to fall. Birds or other small pets, something that is low maintenance, would be a better option in this case. Also, consider the age of the pet. Don’t choose a kitten, puppy or an elderly animal.
How much can you afford?
The larger the animal, the higher the food bill tends to be. Add to that the cost of vet fees and other expenses such as flea medication and shots. Figure out just how expensive a pet you can afford before choosing one.
Pets can be a lot of work, depending on the type. For many seniors they are also a lifeline. Physically and mentally, they help us to age well. Many seniors are happier when they share their lives with pets.