Seniors and Pets: The Pros & Cons
Do seniors need pets?
Some say yes, others say no. Some believe the seniors can’t take care of themselves so how are they going to take care of a pet?
Others believe the pet gives the senior purpose.
Which side are you on?
Let’s look at some pros and cons of seniors having pets.
Pros of Seniors having a Pet:
- A pet can reduce isolation by providing companionship to the senior. So, if you can’t be there, at least they don’t feel as if they’re alone
- A pet can give the senior a sense of purpose. They won’t feel as if they don’t matter, they have someone to care for, someone who depends on them and needs them. Your mom or dad took care of you and or siblings for so long and now they have no one to care for anymore.
- A pet can be extremely satisfying and make them feel useful again.
- A pet can ensure the senior gets regular exercise, especially if they have a dog. They will need to walk the dog routinely and thus give them exercise and get them out into the world. Vitamin D is one vitamin many seniors lack because they tend to stay indoors.
- A pet can provide the senior with a routine. They will need to feed the animal at approximately the same time each day, which adds structure to their life.
- If they have a dog, it’s a great way to meet new friends and peak new interests. Dogs are great icebreakers and conversation starters. As far as peaking new interests, the senior might be inclined to clean up the dog walking area, or perhaps take the friendly pet to the senior center or hospital to spread cheer to others.
- A dog can provide a sense of protection. Even a small dog barking can deter a burglar.
- A pet can help lower stress in seniors. Perhaps because of the companionship, or maybe because they have someone to talk to, love and care for again. Could it be the structure or constancy pets add to the senior’s life?
- Petting a dog or cat can reduce stress. It acts as a relaxing mechanism in our brain and body and while we pet the animal we talk to them as well which helps ease our stress level.
- Dogs and cats can help the senior cope, especially after an illness or surgery. They are specifically keen and can pick up on their owner’s discomfort and will be supportive of their comfort needs.
Petting a dog or a cat can reduce stress.
Now, let’s talk about some cons:
If you get a puppy, you may not have the stamina or the energy to “keep up” with the puppy.
Also, if you have a pet that requires a cage cleaning, make sure you are physically able to clean the cage regularly.
Ensure you are able to put everything into pet ownership that comes with it.
Time, money, energy, the daily care, veterinary visits, food, and attention.
If you have a dog, cat, or bird make sure you have a plan for the animal should they outlive you or you move into an assisted living community.
You don’t want the constant stressor of what will happen to your pet if something happens to you.
So, should you get a pet?
Ultimately, the decision is yours, but if you look closely, the pros outweigh the cons. Adopting a pet from a shelter is a great way to get a pet. Not only will the seniors have a companion, but they will also be helping save the life of an animal.
This can provide the senior with an amazing sense of purpose, and because they feel responsible for the animal’s life, they are more likely to take better care of their life.