What a Pet Can Do for a Senior and the Responsibilities of Pet Ownership
For a senior citizen, or someone approaching that age, the benefits of pet ownership can be both plentiful and profound. Pets provide their owners with affection, love, companionship, and stimulation.
Playing with, interacting with, and caring for pets provides seniors with great health benefits as well – benefits like lower blood pressure, stress management, and increased mental acuity. Pet ownership can also provide great incentive for some seniors to get physical activity that they might not otherwise.
However, pet ownership is not a great fit for every senior. Along with the many benefits of owning and caring for a pet come many responsibilities and daily tasks that not every senior may have the desire or capacity to carry out. Pets need care, feeding, stimulation, and in many cases exercise.
If you’ve decided that the benefits of pet ownership are worth the responsibilities, and are confident that a pet will thrive in the situation you’re considering introducing it, make sure you pick the right type of pet for the situation.
Cat Ownership for Seniors
For many, cat ownership is the best and most obvious fit for seniors. Cats are affectionate and fun to play with. They are also comparatively independent creatures that do not require as much hands-on daily care as some other pets.
But cats also can be temperamental pets and seniors with compromised immune systems should probably steer clear of owning a cat.
The Benefits of Dog Ownership for Seniors
Dogs are also potentially a great fit for many seniors. They are fun-loving, affectionate, provide a sense of security and safety in some cases, and are always ready for activity and exercise.
Depending on the breed, dogs can vary widely when it comes to temperament and their need for exercise and mental stimulation. Puppies in general may not be a good fit for many seniors, but adopting an older dog can be a great way for a senior to find companionship and good motivation to keep going for daily walks.
When selecting a dog for a senior, make sure the dog’s daily needs and temperament are a great match for the senior’s capacity and drive.
The Benefits of Birds, Fish, and Other Pets for Seniors
It can be tempting to make the choice between a cat or a dog and leave it at that, but in many cases the perfect pet may not be either. Many seniors get the same benefits from taking care of a reptile, bird, rodent, fish, or other type of pet that they would from owning a dog or cat.
As always, make sure that the level of care and general needs of the animal will not be too much for the senior.
The Right Fit When Searching for the Perfect Pet
If you are considering taking on a pet later in life, or if you are caring for a senior and considering getting them a pet or weighing whether or not it’s time for them to give up a pet they already have, make sure to balance the responsibilities of pet care against the benefits of pet ownership.
Pet ownership has a great many positive attributes for seniors, but getting the right pet for each unique senior person is key.