Pets often play a special role in our lives. They provide offer unconditional love and unwavering companionship. For older adults, especially those who live alone, having a furry or feathered friend to come home to can help can make the house a little more inviting.
The health benefits of pets for seniors are well documented. Having a pet later in life encourages people to take a daily walk and socialize with others along the way. According to the American Heart Association, pets are also linked to fewer incidences of depression, reduced stress, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Then there is the sense of purpose pet owners feel. Caring for an animal provides older adults with the structure and daily routine they might be missing in retirement years.
But how to you know what type of pet is best for you or the Seattle senior you love?
Animals can be great companions for seniors, but not every pet is suitable for an older adult. Here are a few to consider.
Which Animals Make the Best Pets for Older Adults?
A Canine Companion
This is typically what people think of first when exploring a pet for themselves or an older loved one. A canine companion can be a good buddy to take along on walks. Some can even be trained to provide supportive services to seniors with mobility, hearing, or vision limitations.
Small dogs such as a Poodle or a Maltese do well indoors. A larger, even- tempered dog like a Golden Retriever might also be a good match. Veterinarians encourage seniors to adopt adult dogs instead of opting for a puppy. They are typically lower maintenance and easier to manage.
A Feathered Friend
This one may surprise you! Birds can have energetic and bubbly personalities that make them a fun addition to the family.
Canaries are known for their singing abilities. They are small, colorful birds generally considered to be easy to care for. Zebra Finches are a little quieter, but equally entertaining.
Bird watching also has health benefits. This activity has been shown to have a calming effect on people of all ages, and the reason many Alzheimer’s care programs have an aviary for residents to enjoy.
A Feline Friend
While cats have earned a reputation for being a little too independent, they actually make a great pet for an older adult. It begins with the fact that they are lower maintenance than their canine counterparts, especially when it comes to grooming expenses.
Clean by nature, a feline friend is often better suited to smaller spaces like a retirement community apartment or villa. Breeds known for their more mellow nature include the Russian Blue, Ragdoll, or Persian cat.
Adopting a mature cat who is already litter-boxed trained from a local animal shelter also gives you the advantage of knowing what their personality is before you bring them home.
What to Consider Before Adopting a Pet
Finally, don’t forget to carefully explore the costs involved with owning a pet and the space you have available. If you live with any physical limitations, consider how those will impact your ability to care for your companion.
Keeping these factors in mind when you select a pet will likely help you enjoy one another’s company for years to come.
If you do adopt a pet, we’d love to hear your story! Please share it, along with a “family” photo, on 3rd Act Magazine’s Facebook page.