Caring for a Pet as an Older Adult

Despite all the work, having a pet is a rewarding experience for most adults, no matter their age. This is clearly illustrated by a set of statistics put forward by Forbes, which reveals that 66% of households in the United States currently have at least one pet. While the millennial generation was most likely to have a pet, roughly 24% of baby boomers have one too.

As we age, caring for a pet as an older adult grows to be an intriguing thought. Especially for those who live at home, having a furry friend to keep them company at all times is appealing. Even past that, having a pet at home has many benefits. However, it’s also important you are aware of the cons too. Before running to the pet shelter, weigh out these pros and cons, and make a decision that is best for you and your life.

Caring for a Pet as an Older Adult

What are the benefits of caring for a pet as an older adult?

It’s fairly common knowledge that pets can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are prevalent issues for many seniors, but the benefits of having a pet extend far past this. According to one study at the University of Michigan, it’s possible that pets can even help speed up recovery from illness or sickness. This is due to the emotional and physical support animals offer humans, which helps seniors take their minds off their pain.

Pets also help seniors feel a renewed sense of purpose, which many feel they lose upon retiring. No matter what the day entails, there is always a creature that needs their support, which is fantastic for the mental health of older adults. Having a pet also gives people a natural avenue to meet with others and opportunities to socialize. Those who take their dogs on regular walks see this benefit most often (another bonus—improved physical activity).

Certain health benefits arise from the reduction of stress and depression that comes with owning an animal. These include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Boosted immune system
  • Allergen fighting

What are the negatives of caring for a pet as an older adult?

While the benefits of caring for a pet may be enough to sell you, there are unfortunately negatives to caring for a pet as an older adult. Chiefly among them is the cost associated with caring for an animal. Food, vet bills, and other supplies can rack up, which may be a challenge for seniors who already are paying for their own medical concerns.

In addition to these health concerns, caring for a pet can be physically difficult for seniors. You may not have the physical capacity to take a dog on regular walks or to bend down to clean a cat’s litter box. This can lead to additional, unwarranted stress in a senior’s life. Another unfortunate negative is the lifespan of a pet—they don’t live forever, and losing them can be devastating.

A pet could be right for you

Choosing the pet that’s right for you

If you’re ready to start your journey as a pet owner, congratulations! Caring for a pet as an older adult is a rewarding experience, especially if you choose an animal that best fits your lifestyle. When choosing a pet, consider these factors.

  • Your living space. If you have a home with a fenced-in yard, a dog would be a great fit for you. Conversely, if you live in an apartment several floors up, an animal like a cat would be a better option.
  • Any disabilities. Physical concerns can make caring for an energetic dog quite difficult. A cat, bird, or rodent requires much less care than a dog.
  • The animal’s temperament. Before choosing a pet, consider if you can keep up with its temperament. Some breeds of animals have high energy that may be difficult for you to keep up with.
  • Finances. Some pets are more expensive than others. If your finances are a concern, a pet such as a fish may be a better option for you.

Tips for caring for a pet as a senior

If you’re able to age in place with a pet, there are certain things you can do to make care easier so that both you and your furry friend stay healthy and happy.

  • Purchase automatic feeders. While they’re more expensive than a standard water and food dish, the price of automatic feeders may be worth the investment. Feeders can hold up to a few weeks of food, so you don’t have to worry about meeting the correct feeding times every day.
  • Connect with a vet who does house calls. They aren’t quite as easy to find as your standard veterinarian, but some vets will do house calls for anxious pets or owners who struggle to get out of the home.
  • Find help. If you need help caring for your pet, don’t be afraid to reach out to neighbors or family members for assistance. They may be able to take your dog on walks for you, clean or cat’s litter box, or whatever else you need. There are even hirable services where a professional comes to take care of these tasks for you.

Receive the care you need too

Aging in place affords you freedom you wouldn’t otherwise have. This is ideal for most seniors, but there may be certain things you require assistance with to live comfortably. If this is the case, consider hiring the help of a non-medical caregiver.

At Home Care Powered by AUAF, our passionate caregivers gladly assist with all the activities of daily living you require, from running errands to personal care. For more information on how we can improve your quality of life, give us a call at 773-274-9262.

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