The Best Pets for Seniors and Retirees
Searching for the best pets for seniors? Finding companion pets for seniors can be a smart way to help someone who is feeling socially isolated. The CDC, quoting a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), states that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated
But pets for seniors as social companions could help combat that. Pet companionship isn’t just effective for seniors. In fact—a study by the University of York, conducted during the COVID-19 lockdown months between March and June of 2020, concluded that around 90 percent of study participants said their pet helped them cope emotionally with the lockdown. And 96 percent said their pet helped keep them fit and active.
But what are the best pets for seniors? Let’s explore.
Companion Pets for Seniors #1: The Rescue
Rescuing an animal can be an incredible feeling, and there are programs available to help seniors find their best pet companions. Looking for dogs for seniors? Taking the rescue approach might be the perfect way to find the dog you’re looking for. Pets for the Elderly makes it easier for seniors to afford companion animals in shelters by helping to pay for any of the associated fees. That includes help with the costs of pre-adoption, veterinary exams, and spay/neuter.
The program was started by a senior, the late Avrum (Avvy) Katz, in 1992. He decided in his seventies that his vision was to provide companionship to senior individuals through pet ownership while saving the lives of companion animals in shelters.
Through the program, you can browse shelters all across the country and find dogs for seniors or cats. But you can also find many other companion pets for seniors. Some shelters also have rabbits, guinea pigs, and even small mice who have been abandoned and are in search of their new forever home.
Companion Pets for Seniors #2: The Senior Pet
Another fitting companion pet for seniors could be a senior pet. Several programs help match seniors with senior pets, which are usually animals about six years or older. Senior pets can make ideal companions for older adults. They tend to be more gentle and calm and they also tend to appreciate more calm environments—something that a more mature adult can uniquely provide.
Senior pets are also typically already trained, so you won’t have to worry about chewed-up shoes or accidents inside the house. And seniors who adopt more mature pets are doing them an invaluable favor. Many people aren’t interested in adopting senior dogs. They have fewer years to live and less energy for certain situations—like families with young kids. But all of that could make them the perfect companion pet for seniors.
Companion Pets for Seniors #3: The Foster
Another option when considering pets for seniors is the opportunity to foster. Many, rescue programs have what they call foster parents—or people who help take care of an animal until it has found its forever home. Because of their schedules, retirees can make for the perfect foster parents.
This might be a better solution for seniors who have more energy because some foster animals can require a little extra effort. But the experience can be extremely rewarding and it’s possible to find more community among other pet foster parents.
Foster animals that can require quite a bit of attention are bottle babies—kittens or puppies that are found at a nursing age with no mother. These animals will require constant feedings, which is hard for many people to take on with their ongoing work schedules. But for a retiree that stays home during most of the day, making regular feeding times could be far more possible.
Another benefit of fostering is that it could provide your family with the opportunity to find the right pet. You can always foster until you find the pet that you bond with best, then adopt that pet.
Browsing companion pets for seniors might be a great way to help the older adult in your life feel less lonely. Just be sure to check in with them first. And remember that it sometimes takes time to find that right forever friend.
Contributed to The 55+ Society
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