It’s probably been years since your children left the house to live on their own. Or, maybe it’s been a few years since your spouse passed away. Or, maybe you feel it’s time to finally have another heartbeat in your house. Regardless of the reason, seniors benefit from caring for pets.
Having a pet may relieve some stress and anxiety, provide companionship, make you feel needed and so much more. What’s more, since some senior citizens feel depressed and experience isolation, caring for a pet might alleviate some symptoms and add a daily dose of cheer.
However, welcoming a pet into your home isn’t anything to do on impulse.
You need to plan the adoption carefully, taking into consideration the type of pet you want and how easy it will be to care for. You need to prepare your home properly for your new friend and get the necessary supplies. You should also consider the age of the pet you are adopting and determine who will take care of it if you ever become unable to do so. Clearly, though, the advantages of owning a pet seem to outweigh the reasons not to, especially, as Lisa Esposito states in U.S. News & World Report since pet ownership acts against loneliness, inactivity, and isolation. But for all the benefits pet ownership brings, there are three things you still need to do on your end:
Determine what pet is best for you
A better way to ask that might be which type of pet will be the easiest for you to care for.
Dogs do require more attention, but they also love to walk, so they will keep you more active. Be sure the dog is trained to not pull on the leash.
Cats, on the other hand, might not require as much attention, so they might be ideal for seniors who aren’t as active.
But when you adopt, either from a shelter or local Humane Society or another agency, pay careful attention to the animal’s history.
Some cats and dogs come from homes where they were abused and might be skittish around you at first. Others might have health issues. Some might have been abandoned by previous owners and will probably not do well when left alone. The agency from where you adopt your new friend should tell you about any issue the animal has and how to best care for it.
Get your house ready
Before the big day arrives when you bring your new pet home, make sure you have food and bowls, some toys, a collar and leash and baby gates to block off areas of the house where you don’t want the pet to go.
If you’re bringing home a cat, have a designated spot for the litter box. As a senior, you might consider having one that is self-cleaning so you’re not bending down as much to scoop out Miss Kitty’s daily waste.
You’ll also need to determine how you’re going to housetrain your dog. If you are adopting an older dog, chances are he might already be housetrained.
If it’s a puppy, you’ll need to invest some time and patience in getting her to relieve herself outside. This is one area where seniors need to pay particular attention. As Barkbusters.com explains, the puddle your new puppy accidentally leaves on the floor might cause you to slip.
Be in it for the long haul
Not only should you make room in your home for your new pet, but you should also make room in your heart.
Indeed, pets can help alleviate the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression, but it’s not a good idea to adopt unless you are willing to care deeply for the animal as well.
Besides just feeding it, engage the animal each day. And when the time comes when you are unable to care for the pet, make sure that your companion will get the same loving care from someone else that you have provided.
Also, be sure to make plans for your dog in the event you can no longer provide care.
You invest a lot in caring for a pet. But with the companionship and mental health benefits they provide in return, the payoff is immeasurable.
– Janet Campbell at Elder Spark, a website designed to encourage people of all ages to live their healthiest and happiest lives ever. We strive to provide information on senior wellness and safety as well as ideas for how to make the most of this beautiful chapter of our lives.