Loneliness is an unwelcome guest in senior households. In many instances, one spouse outlives the other, leaving the surviving spouse in an empty house. All their children have lives of their own, and may even live out of state. Thus, visits are rare. Friends have passed on, and neighbors change over the years.
If the senior is active and able to get out and about, they can participate in social and community events. If they don’t drive, they are housebound, and at the mercy of others to provide rides. They feel like they are imposing on others, so rather than call for a ride, they stay home.
Seniors can become very lonely if they don’t leave their homes. One solution to alleviating their loneliness is to bring a pet into their home. Pets provide a love and companionship that is like no other. Here are seven reasons seniors need pets in their lives.
- Health Benefits – Pets help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase physical activity. While some seniors may not be able to walk a dog outside, they still get exercise when they feed the dog or let them out. Something as simple as getting up out of a chair for a few minutes helps their circulation.
- Knowledge – When a senior brings a pet into their home, they may want to read up on the breed or the animal. It can stimulate their minds and make them want to read more.
- Less Worry – Pets live in the here and now. Seniors can learn from them. And who doesn’t smile when puppies wag their tails?
- 24/7 Availability – Pets never take a day off. They are around morning, noon and night. They don’t go away for holidays or disappear two weeks for vacation. They are built-in companions who will never leave the senior’s side.
- Purpose in Life – Pets create the need for routine. They need to be fed and toileted and groomed. They give seniors a reason to get up in the morning, even when they are depressed and lonely.
- New Interests – Having a pet can involve the senior in more outside activities like communal pet walks. Even walking around the block with a pet can result in finding new friends. Especially those who share common interests, like walking their own dogs!
- Protection – Large dogs make great protectors, but can be too much for a senior to handle. But even a small dog can help protect a senior. As soon as a prowler hears barking on the other side of the door, he will think twice about intruding.
Seniors aren’t the only ones who benefit from this relationship. Rescue dogs can make the best pets for seniors. A saved life can save another’s life. And because most seniors are retired, they can devote a lot of their time to their pets.
If there is a senior in your life who can benefit from owning a pet, ask questions first. Do they want one? Can they handle the tasks that come with pet ownership? Does their living situation allow pets? Do they have the finances for supporting a pet? Never surprise a senior with a pet. Do your homework first. It will prevent problems later. And it can also make for the best of relationships.