Whilst looking after a pet is an added daily responsibility in life having a pet provides us with a great deal of pleasure and love and retired or elderly people, in particular, can often feel even closer to their pets than the average person. If you’ve recently retired and depending on the type of pet you keep, you might find that you’re able to spend much more time with your pet which can help to fill up the time in your daily schedule whilst for elderly people, a pet can even mean maintaining a strong will to live and enjoy life to the full.
Benefits of Keeping a Pet for the Elderly
There are many reasons why having a pet when you’re elderly is good for you. Pets can help to reduce stress and can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. They can keep you more active than you might have been otherwise and they can alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.
For those who live alone especially, pets can be a social lifeline. Even though your pet cannot talk back, many elderly people take great comfort in holding ‘conversations’ with their pets and, if you have a dog, for example, and you are able to get out and about, you’ll often find that you’ll end up striking up conversations with other dog owners on your daily walks which will help you to maintain some kind of social circle and enables you to stay in touch with the world around you as a result.
In addition, in having to care, feed and, in some cases, exercise your pet, you are also more likely to take more care of yourself too and your pet will provide you with mental stimulation as well as physical exercise in, say, the case of a dog.
Pets are especially therapeutic in the case of those who live alone in terms of helping a person to get over the loss of a loved one. Most pets crave love and need caring for and they will often give you that back tenfold in return so they can help to reduce and, in some cases, eliminate feelings of isolation. In the case of a dog especially, they can also add to your feelings of personal security.
Things to Consider
So far in this article, it would be difficult to make a case for why every person should not run out today to their nearest pet shop and ‘bag’ themselves a loving pet. However, there are certain things that you should take into consideration before getting a pet.
Firstly, you should consider whether or not your health might have any impact upon your ability to look after your pet. For example, if you’re likely to be attending hospital appointments regularly, you need to consider the type of pet you want and whether or not it’s conducive to you being away from the house on a daily basis. For example, a dog takes more looking after than, say, a goldfish. However, all pets need to be cared for and fed so you need to be certain that you are around the majority of the time to be able to look after your pet properly and that you’re able to make the necessary provisions for your pet to be cared for if you’re not going to be at home for any length of time. You’ll also need to consider whether or not you’re in a fit enough state of health to look after your pet. For example, you may feel that you want something more than, say, a budgerigar or a goldfish and that you’d prefer a dog or a cat. If so, a cat will be a far wiser choice if you’re unable to get out and about much as dogs need regular daily exercise.
You also need to feel reasonably confident that you will be living in your home for some time to come. If you could be faced with moving into residential care in the not too distant future, you’re also going to have to make plans to re-house your pet which, in addition to not always being able to find somebody to take your pet on, separation from your pet can often cause great emotional distress too.
You may also need to consider if you suffer from an allergic reaction to any pets. Many people have allergies towards cats or dogs so that’s something to be considered before you bring a pet into your home.
Cost, too, is also a factor. Your budget might prevent you from choosing a pet which costs more money to feed. Then, in the case of dogs, cats and rabbits, for example, there may be additional costs to incur such as vets bills, neutering and spaying etc.
Therefore, there are many pros and cons to keeping a pet and many things which you’ll have to take into consideration first. However, if you have thought things through and decided to go ahead, a pet can provide a source of much love, pleasure and joy in later life and can make your later years even more enjoyable and worthwhile.