Pets for Seniors: Companions for Later in Life

By Dari by Homethrive |

Pets provide companionship, love, and security, and can help reduce stress levels.

Senior smiling with dog

Fast Facts:

  • Pets can offer many benefits to aging adults including companionship, physical health, mental health, social interaction, and (of course!) unconditional love.
  • There are low-maintenance pet options if you’re unable to (or just don’t want to) care for higher-maintenance animals.
  • Low-maintenance pets include cats, fish, hermit crabs, hamsters, and rabbits.
  • If you have a pet that you can no longer care for, you have options including rehoming your pet and finding a foster home, among other.

After Sophie's children left the nest and started families of their own and her husband passed away, she was lonely and wanted companionship. Because she's been a dog lover since childhood, she visited a nearby rescue and found the perfect pooch to keep her company.

Pets provide companionship, love, and security, and can help reduce stress levels. Dari's here with the benefits of owning a pet for seniors, as well as some low-maintenance options for those who may not be able to care for a traditional pet.

Benefits of Owning a Pet Later in Life

Pets can be the perfect companion for seniors who may have lost a loved one, find themselves living alone, or are limited in their ability to socialize. Pets can provide many benefits for seniors, including the following:

1. Companionship

One of the main benefits of owning a pet for seniors is the companionship they provide. Pets can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation and can provide comfort in times of grief or stress. Seniors who live alone often find their pet becomes their best friend, providing them with someone to talk to and spend time with.

2. Physical health

Pets can also have a positive impact on seniors' physical health. Walking or playing with a pet can help to increase strength and endurance. They can even help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Seniors who suffer from arthritis or other chronic pain conditions may find their symptoms are alleviated by spending time with their pet.

3. Mental health

In addition to the physical benefits, pets can also improve mental health. Seniors who suffer from anxiety or depression often find spending time with their pet reduces symptoms. Pets can provide a sense of purpose and help to increase self-esteem. They can also give seniors something to look forward to each day.

Pets also help retirees maintain a routine. This can be essential to mental health. Almost one-third of retirees suffer from depression. This is largely due to a loss of purpose and routine. Pets can help to combat this by providing a sense of responsibility and structure.

4. Social interaction

Pets can also help seniors to socialize and interact with other people. Walking a dog or taking them to the park is a great way to meet new people and get some fresh air. Seniors who spend time volunteering at an animal shelter or pet-sitting for friends and family often find they have more opportunities to socialize.

5. Unconditional love

Perhaps most importantly, pets provide seniors with unconditional love. They’re always happy to see you, no matter what kind of day you’ve had. They’re loyal and will stick by your side through thick and thin. This unconditional love has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost your mood. It can even help to lengthen your life!

Low-Maintenance Pets for Seniors

While a pet can bring joy to a senior's life, some may not be able to care for a high-maintenance animal. If you're a senior looking for a low-maintenance pet, consider the following options:

Cats

Cats are relatively independent and can entertain themselves, making them a perfect pet for seniors. They don't require as much exercise as dogs, but still need to be played with regularly. Be sure to get a cat that's good with people since some can be skittish around strangers.

Fish

Fish are a great option for seniors who want a pet but don't want the hassle of caring for a high-maintenance animal. They're relatively easy to care for and can be relaxing to watch. Just be sure to get a fish tank that's the right size for your space and budget.

Hermit crabs

These small creatures are low-maintenance and easy to care for. They can be a fun pet for seniors who want something a little different. Just be sure to get a hermit crab that's from a reputable source to ensure it's healthy.

Hamster

If you're looking for something furry and low maintenance, a hamster may be the perfect pet for you. They don't need a lot of space and can be easy to care for. Just be sure to buy an appropriately sized cage for your hamster.

Rabbits

Rabbits are another great option for seniors who want a cuddle buddy without a lot of maintenance. They're relatively low maintenance but do require some daily care. Be sure to get a rabbit that's good with people since some can be skittish around strangers.

What to Do If You Can No Longer Care for Your Pet

If you find you can no longer care for your pet, there are some options:

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Rehome Your Pet

Many websites and organizations can help you find a new home for your pet. This is often the best option if your pet is healthy and does well with other people and animals. Sites such as Pet Finder or Get Your Pet can help you find a suitable home.

Find a Foster Home

If you're not ready to part with your pet but need some help caring for them, consider finding a foster home. There are many organizations that can help you find one. This is often a good option if you need to go into the hospital or rehab facility for a short period of time.

Donate Your Pet

If you're unable to care for your pet and cannot find a new home for them, consider donating them to an animal shelter or rescue organization. This is often the best option if your pet has health problems or isn't good with other people or animals.

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