Scientific research has helped support the idea that pets are good for overall physical and emotional well-being by encouraging frequent exercise and helping reduce depression and anxiety. For home-bound seniors who feel lonely or isolated, having a companion at all times may be just the medicine they need.
Some pets require more exercise and are costly, while others are low-maintenance and cost effective. Before deciding on the perfect pet, it’s best to consider each pet’s physical, emotional and financial demands to determine what best fits with your lifestyle. Below are a few examples of five senior-friendly pets.
Dogs are typically more costly than other pets and require more attention, but dog owners can reap huge benefits according to research. The University of Missouri Health found adults 60 years or older had fewer doctor visits, lower body mass index, healthier lifestyles and increased pleasure from the bond they share with their four-legged friend, compared with their non pet-owning counterparts.
If you’re physically unable to meet the demands of caring for a large dog that needs a lot of exercise and requires costly and frequent vet trips and food refills, consider owning a smaller breed such as a cavalier King Charles spaniel or Shih Tzu. Smaller pups generally need less exercise and do well in smaller living spaces, while remaining within a smaller, more manageable weight range.
If you’re looking for a furry companion that will still purr and make background noise but requires less attention and energy for daily care, a cat may be your purr-fect match.
While most dogs come to you for playtime and constantly seek your praise, cats are more content entertaining themselves. Most cats however still enjoy human interaction, affection and occasional playtime.
An added bonus? You don’t have to take your cat outside to potty when it’s raining – or ever. Cats are indoor animals.
If you enjoy listening to chirping birds at the first signs of spring and their colorful colors and cheerful songs, you might want to consider purchasing a pet bird of your own. Birds are sure to liven up your living space without too many demands.
Daily feedings and changing the water are required, and the newspaper in the cage will have to be replaced frequently. For those who wish to simply see and hear their pet with minimal maintenance, canaries or finches may be just the right fit. Parrots are better for the senior who has more energy and wants to occasionally take their bird out of the cage for contact.
A fish may be the right option if you don’t desire background noise or are allergic to cats and dogs. Apart from feeding your fishy friend and cleaning his tank, your only job is to enjoy your scaly companion and watch him swim around when you need to take a break and catch a breath.
We don’t recommend purchasing a large aquarium with many fish, as this can be challenging to clean and very heavy. Starting with one fish, such as a Beta fish that does well on its own, may be the perfect stepping stone into the world of sea creatures.
A leopard gecko may not be the first pet that comes to mind for you, but these tiny creatures can actually make great companions. Arguably, the most challenging part is setting up their homes with a heat lamp, rocks and other accessories, but past that, they are low-maintenance and don’t even require daily feedings.
These small pets have beautiful colors, like to be held occasionally and are up for human interaction when you are. However, if you prefer to sit back and just watch them from afar, they’re okay with that, too.
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