6 Reasons Seniors Should Consider Adopting a Pet

Does owning a pet really get better with age? According to a survey conducted by the National Poll on Healthy Aging, 88% of seniors claim their pets help them to enjoy a better quality of life, and 79% of seniors believe their four-legged friends are largely responsible for reducing their daily stress levels. Seeing as over 40% of seniors suffer from feelings of loneliness, owning a pet can play a huge role in improving their overall well-being. Keep reading to find out our top six reasons why adopting a pet in your later years might not be such a bad idea!

Pets provide seniors with a routine.
After retirement, it is even more important to prioritize a daily routine, because, without a sense of purpose, it is much easier to slip into a depressed mindset. Over 60% of seniors report that owning a pet helps them maintain a structured lifestyle, and over 70% claim that their pets are responsible for providing them with a sense of purpose.  

Pets help seniors cope with pain.
Two in five seniors living alone report that their pets help take their mind off of their pain. This could be the result of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, which is released even when pet owners look into their pet’s eyes for only five minutes’ worth of time. In addition, pets have been known to lower blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of heart disease, and decrease stress levels.

Pets give seniors an excuse to socialize.
Social isolation increases the risk of stroke by 32% and the risk of heart disease by 29%, not to mention depression and poor mental health. However, pets can offer seniors an excuse to leave the house, as well as ample conversation topics. Who doesn’t love to show off their fur baby?

Pets make sure seniors stay active.
In addition to helping seniors be social, pets encourage seniors to remain active. Doctors recommend that able-bodied seniors aged 65 and older get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. Since 64% of all pet owners report that staying on top of feeding, playing, and walking their pet helps them stay more active, it goes without saying that seniors with pets are more likely to prioritize their physical fitness.  

Pets keep seniors safe and secure.
Pets provide seniors living at home an extra barrier of security. Thieves are far less likely to rob homes where dogs reside, and both cats and dogs can be useful in alerting seniors to strange noises around the house, especially seniors who are experiencing hearing loss due to old age.

Pets give seniors the gift of companionship.
As stated above, one of the hardest parts about growing older is the feeling of loneliness. Pets encourage seniors to live in the present, and more often than not, become a very best friend. 

If you or your loved one are considering adopting a pet, make sure you put a lot of thought into your new companion’s needs and personality, as well as your own habits and lifestyle, before settling on an animal breed. If a pet is too expensive, physically demanding, or high maintenance, the benefits listed above will not only be improbable, but they may encourage the opposite effect instead. It is also important to keep in mind that some pets outlive their owners. For this reason, you should remember to include pets in your estate planning, particularly by naming a caretaker for your pet, and in some cases, setting up a pet trust to cover the animal’s care should you or your loved one become unable to provide care yourself.