Considerations for Seniors with Pets

Senior GSD
Photo courtesy of Pixabay by Hans_Kemperman

by Jessica Brody

Pets have been shown to be good for their owners' physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. Because so many elderly individuals live by themselves, pet ownership is a great way to bring a sense of companionship, connection and purpose into your golden years.

In addition to reducing stress, seniors also find that pets can lower blood pressure, boost physical activity, improve mental sharpness
and foster the feeling of increased social connection - to name a few benefits! Perhaps this is why nearly half of all Americans over age 65 own pets.

If you're a senior who has been thinking of bringing a furry friend into your life, here are some things to consider:

Type of Pet

The type of dog you choose should fit into your health and lifestyle. Older dogs usually have a lower energy level. Golden State German Shepherd Rescue selects dogs specifically for their good temperament.

Spend some time bonding with the pet before officially deciding to bring it home. Make sure your personalities are compatible, and that his size and energy level will work for your home and lifestyle.

Home Preparation

Whether you're bringing home a puppy or an adult canine, you'll need to make some adjustments to make sure your home is completely safe. Start by looking for escape opportunities like ripped screen doors, broken gates, and large gaps between fence posts. Fix or block off these areas as necessary to make sure your pet stays safe.

Check labels on any of your home cleaning products to find out which ones are toxic. Make sure they are stored somewhere secure and completely out of reach from a dog. He'll be curious and want to investigate when he arrives, so make sure it's either a locked cabinet or a room he doesn't have access to. You'll also want to be mindful of food that you leave on the counter or in low cabinets, especially when it comes to chocolate.

Foster Pets

There are always animals out there in search of forever homes, but if that feels like too much of a commitment for you right now, perhaps you could consider the foster pet system. Fostering pets provides the same mental, physical, emotional and social benefits as owning a pet longer-term.

However, foster pets are a better option for some seniors thanks to the shorter term commitment. Check with your local humane society or breed rescue program to see if a foster pet might be right for your situation.

Regardless of what type of pet you choose for your loved one, one thing is for certain: this will be an incredible opportunity for you to form a bond with a new companion. The improved physical and mental health, along with the potentially reduced rates of depression and anxiety, are just icing on the cake. Taking the leap into pet ownership is not a decision to be taken lightly, but it can be a very meaningful and worthwhile decision for many elderly adults.