10 Benefits of Pet Ownership for Senior Adults
When it comes to living a life filled with purpose and joy, some people have discovered a non-human treasure: pet ownership. Who could argue? The idea of receiving unconditional affection from a furry friend is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. But the treasure-trove of pet-related benefits doesn’t stop there—especially for senior adults. Here are a few of the many life-enriching benefits that can come from pet ownership in our retirement years.
Getting older can feel lonely at times. For many, pets are an excellent way to reduce the harmful effects of social isolation by offering much-needed company.
Pets provide older adults with responsibilities that give structure to their day. These responsibilities aren’t necessarily taxing, unless you opt for a non-traditional pet.
Some pets, like dogs, make daily walks a daily excuse to get out and get active.
- Getting out
Speaking of getting out, pets that require semi-frequent visits outside provide owners with a built-in reason to step out for some fresh air, too.
- Less stress
Studies show that older people with pets often experience less stress than those without. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise (see reasons 1-4).
- Making friends
Let’s face it, meeting new people is never easy or particularly comfortable. Thankfully, most pets have a remarkable way of providing a much-appreciated icebreaker.
- New interests
Pet owners often find themselves being introduced to new pet-inspired activities, such as dog walking groups and clubs or making visits to patients in pet-friendly hospitals.
Even the littlest dogs can provide some level of security for home or apartment peace of mind.
- Providing care
There’s great sense of purpose that comes from taking care of another living being. That desire to be useful certainly extends to pets of all kinds.
Having a pet means putting another’s needs above your own. Making that kind of decision shows commitment and dedication.
While the advantages of pet ownership are unquestionable, it also goes without say that having a pet may not be best suited for everyone equally. So, before you rush out and adopt a furry or feathery friend, here are a few questions worth considering:
- Am I set in my ways?
Adopting a pet usually affects every aspect of an owner’s daily routine. As such, perhaps the most important question to ask when considering a pet is how well you handle change. If change isn’t your forte, you may be better suited for something less demanding.
- Have I had a pet before?
While pet experience isn’t a requisite, it certainly helps you understand the commitment associated with pet ownership. But don’t let that deter you. If you’re open to new and rewarding experiences, you can be a successful first-time pet owner at any age.
- Do I have any disabilities or limitations?
Some pets, like dogs, can be wonderful companions who encourage physically activity. However, if your mobility is limited, a lower-maintenance pet, like a cat or bird, may be a better option.
- Would I benefit from a service dog or emotional support animal?
Service dogs or emotional support animals are specially trained to offer day-to-day assistance or therapeutic care to help make life easier. Each type of assistance animal has different functions, as well as requires different qualifications. Learn more about a service dog or an ESA.
- What age pet would be best?
While puppies and kittens are undeniably cute, they may not be ideal for all owners because of the care and training they require. On the other hand, an older pet may be well trained but have its own physical limitations that require special care. In either case, be sure to consider what you’re equipped to handle in the pet you select.
- What temperament would be the best fit?
It’s important to research different pet breeds as much as possible. This will not only ensure your prospective pet’s characteristics are compatible with you and your lifestyle, but also offer good insight into its personality traits and energy level.
- Is the pet healthy?
Before you invest in a pet, it’s important to have the animal examined by a veterinarian to make sure it is healthy. Unhealthy pets can not only be difficult to handle emotionally and financially, but they may also compromise your own allergies or immune system, as well.
- Is one pet enough?
Owning multiple pets has its benefits. For starters, they can keep each other company. However, having multiple pets can also result in more time and expense for their long-term care. Be sure to carefully evaluate what you and your space can handle.
- Are finances an issue?
Pets often require a long-term financial commitment. Whether you’re interested in something low maintenance, like a fish, or something that requires a bit more attention, like a dog or cat, be sure to consider what you can comfortably afford now and later on down the road.
- Do you have a backup plan in place?
It isn’t the most pleasant thing to think about, but pet owners need a plan for their pets—should an unexpected event occur. For example, if there was a sudden need to go to the hospital or to move into short- or long-term care, what would happen to the animal? Having a contingency plan in place for the care of your pet is as important as having one for yourself.
At Summit Vista, we realize your expectations for retirement are ever-changing. You want to maximize every moment, discover new possibilities and, most importantly, find the peace of mind to achieve a happy, healthy future that’s free of concern. We want that, too. For more information about the benefits of moving into a Life Plan Community, speak with your retirement counselor, or call 866-359-4033 today.