Have you ever thought about the mass amount of joy a pet can bring to someone’s life? Many pet owners can agree that coming home to your pet after a stressful day at work is the best feeling in the world. The senior citizen population can especially benefit from an animal’s unconditional love.

The Benefits

There are countless amounts of research about the health benefits of owning a pet. As we get older, we are bound to face health issues, physically and mentally. Pets help lower blood pressure, stress, depression, and even cholesterol. In other words, the addition of a furry companion could make all the difference.

dog and cat

Cats and dogs are very relaxed animals in that they don’t worry about tomorrow and the next day, which is very common for senior citizens. Cats and dogs are very much present and embrace the “now”, therefore, that comforting feeling can rub off on their owners. Although it’s a sad truth, senior citizens can get lonely. With family living afar and watching children grow up, time flies by in silence. The pure companionship from an animal can reduce stress and provide an overall sense of security.

Old age can be scary at times, with memory loss being a strong factor. However, psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld, attested that she has seen senior citizens regain access to memories when interacting with a pet. Pets possess a somewhat superpower when you think about it. They help keep us focused and mindful. Rather than focusing on physical pain or worry, pets can calm senior citizens and keep them headstrong.

elderly couple walking dog

Exercise! When your furry friend is begging you to play with those big, adorable eyes, it’s hard to say no. For senior citizens that need more exercise, pets provide the perfect incentive in doing so. Dogs absolutely love walking and exploring the outdoors, giving more mobility to seniors. Even with cats, picking up and swinging around a teaser wand can be quite tiring! It also provides a good laugh when watching your pet go crazy during play time.

The pets themselves can greatly benefit from adoption as well! Another pet adopted means another life saved from the pound. On both ends, everyone wins with the pet and human relationship! Pet and human relationships are strong and down to earth because the simple act of taking care of another being speaks volumes of love. Despite all of this, however, there should also be a careful thought process into what kind of pet a senior citizen should.

woman reading with cat in her lap

How to Find the Perfect Pair

Everyone’s needs are different. This is the number rule when trying to pair up an animal and a senior citizen. There are a handful of habits that people must adapt when it comes to owning a pet. For senior citizens, especially, a pet must fit into their lives like a puzzle piece. If you or a loved one is looking to get a pet for a senior citizen, keep the following factors in mind to ensure a match made in heaven!

Be Open to Change

As mentioned, new habits must be integrated into one’s life when getting a pet. If a senior citizen seems comfortable in their routine, switching it up might be risky or harder to do.

Consider Past Pets

If a senior citizen has owned a pet before, the process of finding a new one is likely to be an easier and smoother process.

Choosing a Cat or Dog

Again, everyone is in different circumstances where some are limited and others aren’t. To be frank, cats have less maintenance than dogs. However, it all depends on the person, their environment, and their resources. The process of choosing between a cat or dog is a tedious one and definitely requires more research. Even once you have chosen the species of the pet, there’s another process of choosing the right breed. Additionally, pets have different personalities too! Whether it’s a sleepy cat or a sociable dog, there are many different pets out there. I recommend talking to the adoption center employees themselves to get a grasp on their lifestyles and determine which one would best work!

Also, if one is considering either one or multiple pets, one is the best choice. More pets ultimately lead to more labor. Even though those two, bonded cats are insanely cute, try to shift your attention to individual pets instead.

puppies and kittens

Kittens and Puppies

Nobody can resist the little, youthful face of a kitten or puppy. Yet, for senior citizens, choosing to get a young one can ultimately backfire. Moreover, raising a puppy or kitten from scratch requires an enormous and intensive amount of work compared to an adult cat or dog. If pursued, it’s likely to cause more stress on a senior citizen. Additionally, it would be devastating for a pet to outlive their owner, especially if they established a strong bond. As hard as it may sound, we need to keep in mind the lifespans of both the human and the pet so that there are no emotional consequences.

Do you need a specially trained pet?

Senior citizens with disabilities or impairments are common candidates for getting pets in general. Depending on their condition, a senior citizen would be best paired with a designated service or emotionally trained pet. At the moment, only dogs are legally considered to be service animals. Even so, adopting an ordinary pet is still effective in its own ways. This is just something to consider looking into if you know an eligible candidate!

man reading

Physical Limitations

Although I heralded exercise as a benefit for senior citizens owning pets, it’s not possible for a handful of people. This goes hand in hand with choosing a cat or dog. Dogs typically require more exercise and walks compared to cats (although, walking cats has become more and more common). Sure, a senior citizen could be happy with a playful Chihuahua but if they cannot offer the proper walks needed, then it’s likely not a perfect match. Remember, keep the pet’s needs in mind too!

The $$$

This next tip is targeted towards any potential pet owner, really. Owning a pet is essentially a long time commitment. Budgets fluctuate with pets, especially with everyone using different brands. Budget plan for your pet like you would for your family expenses! Additionally, looking at what products to get for your pet, focus on the pet’s needs, not just the convenience (this the main mistake that many new pet owners make, leading to malnutrition or other health problems)! …

Fun Facts & Numbers!

Even if senior citizens are in the capacity to own a pet, many can still be unconvinced. While it is out of my jurisdiction, I believe matching seniors with pets provides value and happiness. Here are some numbers from 2019 study by the University of Michigan (conducted on 50-80 year old pet owners) to weigh in:

  • 79% report a decrease in stress
  • 86% say they feel more loved with a pet
  • 73% say having a pet provides them with a sense of purpose
  • 65% say having a pet connects them with other people
  • 64% report to be more physically active
  • 52% cited companionship as the reason for getting a pet

family and cat

Where to Get that Perfect Partner

As mentioned, kittens and puppies are not ideal. Therefore, breeders should not be a place worth considering for your pet search. Adoption shelters are an amazing place to start. You get to see the animals in person, and you are contributing to a profound cause. Every pet’s life is precious, and sheltered animals are at risk for euthanasia. The employees at all shelters are passionate about their work, and with their knowledge of each pet’s personality, you are bound to find a great match to fit your needs! As a bonus, some shelters offer discounted adoption rates for senior citizens!

If adoption centers aren’t your cup of tea, there are plentiful online resources to find a pet. Even through a simple Facebook search, you can find many furry friends looking for new homes!

Paw-in-hand, Seniors and Pets are the Perfect Pair

For many senior citizens, having a pet can greatly improve the quality of their lives. However, as you probably now know, there comes much more thought when getting a pet for a senior. Even then, the end product makes it absolutely worth it in the end. This blogpost only serves as the tip of the iceberg in your pet pairing journey. There are many comprehensive articles out there on this topic, but I hope this provides you with the foundational knowledge into the process. As someone with 5 pets in the household, my heart is full and I hope for senior citizens to experience the same!