We live in a culture that loves its pets. Whether you prefer the furry, four-legged variety or the kind with gills and fins, it doesn’t take long for a pet owner to tell you exactly what their beloved animal friend means to them. 

Just as you can find measurable benefits to things such as laughing and listening to music, it turns out there are also benefits of pets for everyone but especially senior citizens. In honor of National Pet Day on April 11th, let us shows you just how much an animal friend can do for your life. 

The Benefits of Pets for Senior Citizens

Man and woman walk dog. Image source FreePik

There are many physical and mental health benefits when it comes to older adults and pets. People who already own pets know firsthand their relationship with their animal friends gives them satisfaction and enriches their lives in many ways. However, when it comes to senior citizens, those benefits become even greater. Benefits of pet therapy for older adults include:

  1. Companionship

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 25% of people aged 65 and older report feeling lonely and socially isolated. Pets such as dogs and cats can provide a great deal of physical affection and companionship to keep lonely feelings at bay.

  1. Exercise

If you get the right pet, your animal friend could give you a great excuse to stay active and mobile. A dog (and in some cases, a cat) can help motivate you to get your walking shoes on and hit the sidewalk for exercise that’s best for both of you.

  1. Routine

A pet usually requires some structure around feeding, exercise, play, or cleaning. Having a pet helps someone who may feel like they’ve lost their life’s routine quickly reestablish one to care for their pet. 

  1. Nurturance

Taking care of something can be satisfying in itself. Often, seniors have spent a lot of their lives taking care of children and family, only to find those days behind them suddenly. Taking care of a pet can help a senior regain that sense of fulfillment that comes with nurturing a living thing.

  1. Stress Relief

According to News in Health, studies have shown that interacting with animals lowers cortisol, which is your body’s main stress hormone. Due to lower cortisol amounts, your body feels more relaxed, and your blood pressure is lowered.

What Are the Best Pets for Senior Citizens?

The answer to this question is really the same for everyone — whichever pet suits your personality best! When it comes to pets for older adults, though, there are a few more considerations such as:

  • What is the senior’s living situation? Apartment? Assisted living?
  • What are the financial considerations that should be made due to a fixed income?
  • How active is the senior, and does that activity level match the pet’s?

Some of the best pets for seniors include:

  1. Cats

A lot of cats are generally happy to be indoors cuddling with their humans. Because they are low-maintenance and quiet, cats are great companions in an apartment or assisted living community. Since cats don’t require regular outdoor exercise, they are ideal for seniors who are low on energy or mobility. 

  1. Dogs

Dogs are great for seniors who would enjoy a daily walk for exercise or the social interactions a dog can encourage. When looking for a dog of your own, though, keep in mind what dogs would live best in your living situation. Also, if you’re concerned about tripping hazards, a mid-size dog would be better than a small dog.

  1. Birds

Birds can be low maintenance pets while still bringing joy into their owner’s day. Parakeets are a popular option as they are quieter, are easy to clean up after, are less likely to bite, and have a shorter lifespan of around 7-10 years. 

  1. Fish

A small aquarium of fish could be enough to brighten up anyone’s living space. When kept in a smaller aquarium, fish can be easy to clean up after and care for, making them one of the lowest-fuss pets you could get. If you get an automatic feeder, your responsibility is even less!

When it comes to pet adoptions for senior citizens, don’t overlook older pets who are also considered “seniors.” Pets in the baby stage are a handful, and waiting for them to age and calm down before they destroy your whole home can be frustrating. A grown pet is already out of that destructive baby phase, and many are content to relax and nap with their human, making them the perfect companion pet for seniors. 

No matter what pet a senior can accommodate and afford, the benefits they provide to both the owner’s physical and emotional well-being are numerous and far outweigh any of the efforts it takes to care for them. 

Learn more about how you can make one of our pet-friendly communities your new home, or and take our care assessment here.