As we age, our lifestyles often change. One of the changes may mean moving to a senior living community and becoming accustomed to new environments. Sometimes this results in loneliness, depression or boredom. Owning a pet or playing with one create a sense of companionship and also improve seniors’ physical and mental health.
Benefits of pet ownership
- ?Companionship. Pets provide companionship and unconditional love to seniors, as well as an opportunity for socialization by meeting people during walks in the neighborhood or at the vet or pet store.
- ?Pet ownership lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels which results in fewer trips to the doctor.
- ?Pet owners recover more quickly from an injury or illness.
- ?Owning a pet decreases depression and improves self-esteem.
- ?Having a dog promotes activity. A twenty-minute walk three times a day equals an hour of exercise.
- ?Pets, particularly dogs, increase a senior’s sense of personal security.
Is pet ownership for you?
- ?Financial Concerns. Owning a pet means a financial commitment as well as an emotional one. You must consider the costs associated with owning a pet, such as the cost of the pet, food, grooming, vet visits. The cost for a healthy dog run around $1,000 a year. If your pet gets sick, it can be very costly to cover the medical expenses.
- ?Have you owned a dog before? If not, you may want to volunteer at a pet shelter or “foster” an animal for a few weeks to see how you get along before making a final commitment.
- ?Do you have dog or cat allergies? If so, consider a dog that is hypo-allergenic such as a Bichon or poodle, or a Siberian cat. Otherwise, you can choose a small bird or a fish.
- ?Time commitments. Once you commit to getting a dog, you will need to be able to walk him two or three times a day. Even if you have a cat, you will need to spend some time together. If you are away the whole day or travel for extended periods of time, perhaps you can limit yourself to visiting a friend or neighbor and playing with their pet.
- ?Mobility issues. The owner must be able to walk the dog, change the litter box, take the pet to the vet and have play time with the pet. If the senior has mobility or health issues, consider a fish or bird.
Think carefully about the questions raised in this article and decide if pet ownership is for you. Hopefully, you will decide that you are in the market for a furry companion. The good news is that small pets are allowed at Champions Cove, so even if you will not immediately get your own pooch, chances are that one of your good friends or neighbors has one you can “borrow” or visit regularly.