Seniors for Seniors
Studies confirm that the companionship pets provide to their owners is undeniably good for their emotional happiness and physical well-being. But perhaps the benefit of pet ownership becomes most profound among older members of our society, who are often struggling with feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression as they age. In a nationwide poll conducted by the University of Michigan on healthy aging, 88% of pet owners between 50-80 years old said that they enjoyed life more because of their pet. Additionally:
- 86% said that their pets made them feel loved
- 79% said that their pets allowed them to feel less stressed
- 73% said that their pets provided a sense of purpose
- 65% said that their pets allowed them to connect with others
- 64% said that their pets increased their physical activity
Sadly, studies also confirm that senior pets are often the last to be adopted at shelters. According to the ASPCA, nationwide, senior dogs have a 25% adoption rate, compared to the 60% adoption rate of their younger counterparts.
But here’s what years of matchmaking between humans and pets has confirmed for us: Senior pets and senior humans are often perfectly suited for each other. Older pets often demand less exercise or play time, spend more of their days cuddling and sleeping and need less (if any) training. More often than not, these pets settle perfectly into an older person’s home and lifestyle, allowing them years of joyful and meaningful companionship together.
To encourage senior pet and human companionship, the ARL is pleased to offer free adoptions of senior pets to senior humans every day of the year.
Tips to select a pet
If you plan to travel frequently...
While many hotels throughout the country now welcome pets, not all pets travel effortlessly. Make sure you select a pet who enjoys the road as much as you, or that you have a reliable and trusted pet sitter in place.
If you are not mobile...
Cats may be better suited for companionship than dogs, who may need some daily exercise and potty breaks outside. It’s also a good idea to see how your selected pet behaves when you walk before taking him or her home: Some pets show affection by weaving themselves around their owners’ legs, and may create a tripping hazard for those who are not as steady on their feet.
If you have a limited income...
Many pets don’t create financial hardships for their owners and require very little upkeep other than love, food, water and a regular visit to the vet. But some pets do require more maintenance, such as regular visits to a groomer or veterinarian, medications, special food or training sessions. When selecting a pet, keep these costs in mind.
Don′t forget small animals...
Birds, guinea pigs, rabbits and other small animals also make wonderful pets for seniors, and can be just as emotionally fulfilling to own and may be easier to care for.
Ashley Mikulsky, VP of Development, discusses the benefits of owning a senior pet on BCTV’s Senior Connections.