If you are an elderly person, you might want to consider having a pet. Not only do pets soothe loneliness, but they are also a source of healing, especially for those who have lost a spouse or are mostly homebound. But it’s important to get the right pet for your lifestyle and your ability to care for it. In fact, you might want to look at more mellow pets.
In this article we look at 3 animal types that make especially good pets for senior citizens.
The Benefits of Pets for Seniors
It’s proven that pets reduce stress, lower blood pressure, motivate physical activity, and, depending on the pet, heighten social activity. Pets demand a present moment view of life, which can influence how you also look at life. Pets also offer company, coziness, and love, all of which may be missing from your life as you get older.
To find your best pet match, there are a number of questions to consider:
- Do you have the financial ability to care for a pet?
- Have you had pets before?
- What are your physical abilities or limitations?
- Do you have a possible backup plan for a pet if it becomes necessary?
- How old a pet is the best fit for you?
- What personality type would be the best fit?
Dogs as Senior Companions
Dogs make wonderful pets and companions, but there are many potential issues to ponder first. A puppy may not be the best choice because of the work involved in housebreaking and training. However, adopting an older dog might make a wonderful companion for you. If you have ever adopted a dog before, you know how they seem to know it and are overwhelmingly grateful to you for giving them a home.
Here are 6 dog breeds that are especially good for older people.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: cuteness and coziness abound in this breed which would just as soon spend the rest of its life in your lap. They are friendly to all and extremely intelligent. Their beautiful coat does require daily grooming.
- Poodle: this breed bonds well with everyone in the household and is sweet and gentle. Also – they don’t shed! Poodles are exceptionally intelligent, which makes them easy to train.
- Maltese: a very tiny breed, they are gentle and love laps. They don’t need much exercise, but still enjoy playing. They don’t shed, but their beautiful coat does require daily care.
- Chihuahua: a popular breed for small living spaces, these spirited little guys love their owners’ laps. However, strangers may present a problem and, though they enjoy basking in the sun, cold weather is not their thing.
- Pug: a bundle of pug is to have a loving, bonded pet who is devoted to its owner and loves to nap. Pugs don’t bark much, but be prepared for a snoring bed fellow.
- Shih tzu: these little cuties are devoted to and want to always be with their owner. They thrive on attention and love laps. They do well with strangers as well as other pets in the home.
The Comfort of Cats
A soft purring from a cat in your lap is indeed a warm and soothing experience and an easier option than a dog as a pet. Cats can be independent creatures, which is a turn off for some people, but there are also those who want nothing more than to cuddle with their humans. With a cat as your pet, there is no having to go out in rain, snow, heat, and bitter cold. Instead, there’s a daily need to scoop out the litter box and to give it a weekly deep cleaning. Cats can also be vocal, making their needs known, especially when it’s dinner time.
If you live alone or in an assisted living or nursing home, a cat is a wonderful option that doesn’t have the physical requirements needed to take care of a dog but does offer lots of purrs and cuddles.
Here are 6 breeds that make especially good pets for seniors:
- American Bobtail: an affectionate breed that wants to be with you all the time.
- American shorthair: another affectionate cat that loves its people and cuddling.
- Himalayan: a calm-loving cat who needs a quiet home. Its long hair requires daily grooming.
- Manx: that tailless breed that prefers to bond with one person.
- Persian: a beautiful breed with a long coat which also needs daily brushing.
- Russian Blue: a loyal cat who wants to always be near you.
Birds Sweetly Singing
The sound of a bird singing in the morning light is intoxicating and will help you start your day with a smile on your face. There are many species of birds starting from very small to exceptionally large. Smaller birds are easier to handle and include great options such as parakeets, canaries, conures, cockatiels, and finches. The larger species, such as macaws and cockatoos, require a lot of an owner’s time and can be difficult to handle.
If you want a bird that needs handling and to cuddle with, your best bet is a parakeet, cockatiel or conure. The secret to training a bird to cuddle with you is to handle it often. As a new owner, you may find that your bird tends to bite. Most of the time, the bites are more like nips, but an angry or scared bird can chomp down hard. Conures have a reputation for being nippy, but these are mostly love nips.
Finches and canaries are more content to hang out in their cages without much human handling. However, the singing of a canary warms the soul, and the antics of finches are fun to watch.
The main care requirements for birds include daily feeding, clean water, regularly cleaning out cages, and plenty of stimulation, as in toys.
Large birds require more care and handling, and in fact, they demand it. They are extremely intelligent and can live up to 80 years of age. Because of their longevity, you will need to ensure your bird has a good, loving home when you can no longer care for it. However, if you would like a larger bird to keep you company, consider rescuing an older one. You can Google "bird rescue" to find a rescue near you. Smaller birds generally live anywhere from 8 to 20 years, depending on their care and species, so an older one may also be a good choice.
The bottom line is that pets make wonderful companions, no wonder what your age. But, as you ease into your older years, any pet can bring joy and purpose to a life that may have become quiet and lonely.