What Are The Best Pets For Seniors?
Finding the best pets for seniors is a superb way to help improve older adults’ well being. Furry friends offer companionship and a sense of fulfillment.
Of course, different animals have unique characteristics and call for a variety of responsibilities, energy, and resources.
Some older adults may prefer an animal that keeps up with an active lifestyle. Others may want a challenge that requires more time and work. But some seniors may want a companion that’s not as energetic and matches their pace, living situation, and finances.
When it comes to pets for seniors, you typically want to look for an animal that:
- Won’t affect your standard of living, especially if you have a fixed income
- Does well in smaller dwellings
- Doesn’t need a substantial amount of cleaning or exercise
Luckily, there are so many animals that meet these criteria, so you should have no problem finding the perfect pet.
Cats are great pets for seniors because they are so low maintenance. You don’t need to walk cats, and they don’t require the same amount of attention as dogs — for the most part.
Cats are great for those who live in an apartment or community living center since they don’t bark.
Although cats can be easy pets to keep, they still need daily playtime and brushing, depending on the breed. The best cats for seniors include Persians, British Shorthairs, and Ragdolls.
Dogs also make excellent pets for seniors, especially if you like to get outside every day. You may entertain the thought of owning a dog while understanding that a large, energetic animal may not be a good fit.
If your home is smaller and you don’t have a yard, smaller breeds like Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih Tzus, and Maltese are great options. They don’t need a lot of space to run around and are light enough for you to carry.
Before choosing a dog, consider factors such as your activity level, mobility, and where you live to make sure you can properly care for your pup.
Think about the animals’ size: a big dog may accidentally knock you over, but a smaller dog may be difficult to notice and cause a fall.
Like cats, rabbits make little noise, use litter boxes, and like to cuddle — when they feel like it. They do very well indoors, provided they receive enough exercise and attention. You can also take them outdoors for playtime as long as you keep your bunny in a safe place.
Rabbits may not be a common pet for seniors, but they can still be great companion animals. Long-haired angora rabbits, for example, love interacting with their humans and are more than happy to snuggle in your lap for brushing while you watch TV.
Parakeets, also called budgies, are colorful, and cheery birds that do best in pairs. They are small birds that like to fly around. If you would rather them not flutter around the house, then trim their flight feathers and house them in a large cage.
Parakeets can be noisy, but they are quieter than large parrots. Additionally, parakeets take less work to clean up after and bite less than their full-sized counterparts. The average parakeet can live between seven to ten years.
Fish are perhaps the easiest pets for seniors and watching them swim can bring a calming effect. Although a large aquarium may not be appropriate for everyone, some older adults may enjoy a new hobby.
Its as simple as setting up a freshwater aquarium, buying a quality filter, and balancing the water’s pH. You just need to feed them each day, test their water once a week, and vacuum the tank’s gravel once a month.
Give your fish plenty of places to hide and add some fake plants to keep them engaged. Make sure to select suitable species that can coexist in the same tank.
For safety reasons, older adults shouldn’t get a tank larger than 10 gallons. Anything more than that can make changing the water and cleaning difficult.
Older Pets For Seniors
Older pets are the best option for seniors because they are lower maintenance and less energetic. Depending on the shelter, you can adopt a senior pet at a discount, saving you money for food and toys.
Look for local shelters that host programs that match older animals with older adults. As a senior looking for a new companion, visit with the animals you are considering and get to know them better. Before adopting, you may foster an animal so you know how things will be at home.
When you put as much care into your decision process, you’ll be rewarded with a healthy and happy companionship with your new pet.
The Benefits Of Pets For Seniors
Although there isn’t an extensive amount of research concerning pets and health benefits, current findings suggest that pets for seniors can enhance wellbeing and quality of life.
Multiple studies have assessed the benefits of having a dog and found that seniors who take their dogs on walks every day are more physically active than those who don’t.
A National Institutes of Health study discovered that in three years, 71-82-year-olds who routinely walked their dogs had a faster pace, more endurance, and greater mobility than seniors without dogs.
Other NIH studies also suggest that an active lifestyle brought on by dog ownership contributed to a higher survival rate among those who had heart-attacks. Additionally, senior pet owners are more likely to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Besides the physical health benefits of pets for seniors, some research has shown fewer anxious episodes from dementia patients who own pets.
Pet ownership is also linked to lower depression and anxiety compared to older adults without pets.
People of any age can benefit from pets. In a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that “pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.”
Better Interpersonal Relationships
Web MD discovered that caregivers of older adults with pets noted lower stress levels, which can ease caregiver burnout and turnover.
Pet ownership can also help seniors at risk for isolation and loneliness meet other people. A visit to the dog park could lead to new friendships.
Resources For Low- Or Fixed- Income Seniors
Although pets for seniors bring many advantages, the expenses that come with caring for an animal can add additional worries.
For older adults on low or fixed incomes, food, vaccinations, and vet bills can be a struggle. However, some places may be able to help with reduced cost or even free resources.
Meals on Wheels isn’t just for older adults — it can also deliver food for pets, too. Additional help for pet-care expenses helps older adults care for their pets better while also making sure they still meet their own nutritional needs. Sadly, many who can’t afford food for their pets will feed their animals their own food.
This program is not available everywhere, but those that offer it can provide pet food, kitty litter, and more. Local organizations can assist with veterinary care expenses and boarding. And volunteer groups can walk dogs and assist with transportation to vet and grooming appointments for free.
Visit the Meals on Wheels website to find out if this program is available in your area.
Staying current with your pets’ vaccines is important for their health — and yours, too. So if you’re behind on your pet’s annual checkup and your budget can’t afford shots or boosters, a low-cost pet clinic may help.
Fist, visit your local animal shelter, which frequently organizes monthly or seasonal vaccine events. Likewise, they may help you find other alternatives.
Some public schools hold shot nights for pets. There, you can also purchase discounted supplies such as flea and tick control and renew your pet tags. Universities with veterinary programs are another place to check for discounted pet care resources.
You may be able to vaccinate your pet at an event hosted by a community farm supply store like Tractor Supply and H-E-B. These events also provide heartworm, Lyme disease, and other pest exams to make sure your pet stays healthy.
The Humane Society offers a list of financial assistance resources for pet owners. Lastly, don’t be afraid to inquire about senior discounts, even at the vet. It may surprise you how many places offer them for pet care services and supplies.
Meetcaregivers provides qualified professionals to assist with any needs you may have.
Contact us at 1-888-541-1136.
No one should go hungry, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. So in light of current events, we developed a free food delivery program for Boston’s seniors.
Learn how you can receive this service or give:
- Kelly-Barton, Caset. “Pet Care Resources for Low-Income Seniors.” SeniorAdvisor.com Blog, 19 Sept. 2017, www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2016/08/pet-care-resources-for-low-income-seniors/.
- Kelly-Barton, Casey. “Best Pets for Seniors.” SeniorAdvisor.com Blog, 22 May 2015, www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2015/05/best-pets-for-seniors/.
- Kruzer, Adrienne. “The Best Pets for Seniors.” The Spruce Pets, The Spruce Pets, 4 Aug. 2019, www.thesprucepets.com/best-pets-for-seniors-4174885.
- Walker, Tia. “Health Benefits of Pets.” SeniorAdvisor.com Blog, 19 Sept. 2017, www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2015/05/health-benefits-of-pets/.