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7 Reasons Seniors Should Consider Getting a Pet

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Pet ownership is a responsibility that many people find rewarding. The bond that humans have with their pets is unmatched by anything else. As we age, pets can continue to play a fulfilling role. In fact, over half of all older adults care for a pet.1 Dogs and cats can bring many benefits to older adults.

Considering a pet of your own? Read on for seven reasons seniors should consider getting one.

1. Pets can benefit your social life

Benefit your social life

Having a social life is crucial to most seniors’ happiness and health. Caring for pets can bring about opportunities to get out and meet new people. Of pet owners surveyed, 65 percent claimed that pets help them connect to others.1 Older adults with dogs can be around others with shared interests by visiting dog parks or walking around their neighborhood. Dogs can encourage conversation with neighbors, especially those who consistently walk their dogs at the same time each day.

In addition to more opportunities to socialize, pets can be wonderful companions themselves. Dogs and cats in particular can offer unconditional love to their owners. They can especially bring energy and happiness into the lives of older adults.

2. Pets can improve your health

Improve your health

Many people are surprised to learn that pet ownership can benefit their health in several ways. Physical fitness is one of the obvious health benefits of caring for a pet. Pets such as dogs need exercise, and owners often find themselves taking more steps in an effort to walk their dogs more. Besides fitness benefits, pets can also aid in lowering blood pressure. In one study that researched human and dog interactions, participants were found to have lowered blood pressure while petting a dog.2

Did You Know: In addition to cardiovascular health benefits, pets can improve brain health in humans. A recent study showed that owning a pet can actually slow cognitive decline in adults older than 65.3

3. Pets can help with loneliness

Help with loneliness

Many older adults deal with feelings of isolation. In fact, loneliness can be common in older adults, particularly those who live alone. Unfortunately, this can also be a common factor in depression. Getting a furry friend can help those pangs of loneliness. Among the older pet owners surveyed, a staggering 85 percent agreed that having a pet made them feel loved.1

Did You Know: During the COVID-19 pandemic, over 23 million adults became pet owners.4 This staggering number was as a result of so many people feeling isolated during uncertain times.

4. Pets can make you feel more fulfilled

Pets can make you feel more fulfilled

Many adults find that getting a pet can add a sense of fulfillment to their lives. Pets require a lot to be properly cared for. In addition to being loved, they need to be fed, walked, and taken to the vet. Most pet owners (73 percent) find that owning a pet brings about a sense of purpose.1 Becoming a pet owner can add satisfaction and happiness to many people’s lives. This sense of purpose can also improve overall self-esteem.

Pro Tip: Seniors seeking meaning in their lives have many options for finding fulfillment. In addition to pet ownership, volunteering your time can be a gratifying option. If you are unable to house a pet, consider volunteering at an animal shelter.

5. Pets can relieve anxiety

Pets can relieve anxiety

The bond humans have with their pets can aid in relieving anxiety and depression. Caring for a pet can benefit mental health as much as physical health. Pets can also promote mindfulness in older adults, which has been shown to decrease anxiety. Whether playing fetch with a dog or cuddling with a cat, pets inspire people to be present in the moment. Most pet owners find that they have a reduction in overall stress.

6. Pets can offer a sense of security

Sense of Security

Older adults who live alone often feel vulnerable to break-ins. Many people get a dog to help with home security. Guard dogs can be ferocious and fend off intruders. But even the smallest dog can help in giving older adults a sense of security. Dogs that bark when they hear a visitor often discourage burglars and other intruders from attempting to gain entry.

7. Pets encourage stability and routine

Pets encourage stability and routine

People thrive with structure and routine in their lives. One study out of the University of Pittsburgh found that older adults who get up early and are active throughout the day are happier than those without a daily routine.5 As adults age, it can be harder for many to find a routine. Particularly after retirement, days can feel longer and less structured. Caring for a pet offers daily tasks that can encourage owners to stick to a schedule. Dogs may need to be fed and walked at the same times each day.

In Summary

Pets play an important role in the lives of millions of people. They offer companionship and can motivate older adults to be happier and healthier. Whether you are interested in a dog, cat, or another furry friend, consider the many benefits of pet ownership.

Interested in taking your pet with you to an assisted living facility or retirement community? Check out our guide to pet-friendly senior living.

Written By

Taylor Shuman

Senior Tech Expert & Editor

For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman

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