Owning Pets in Retirement

Pets can really truly be both man and woman’s best friend, especially during retirement age. Studies show that having a pet as a companion increases overall well-being, a sense of comfort and even enhances one’s mental health.

dogs-in-duds Being a senior, especially a retired one, has potential to be a lonely time.  Research has shown that seniors who own pets are less likely to feel isolated and more likely to be active in a social circle. Obligation is also a huge component of pet-owning, especially when owning a dog. You will be obligated to go for regular walks-something that cannot be negated. You will also likely be forced to rise at an early hour in order to get up with your pet.  Even if you are feeling unmotivated to get that exercise pets can encourage us to do so.

Animals are also shown at being very effective in reducing anxiety and worry, therefore reducing stress. If an individual is required to have a routine of caring for a pet-both hygienically and socially- they are much more likely to carry out the same routine for themselves.

Another way owning a pet may decrease stress  loneliness , aside from the constant companionship, is motivated you to get out and talk to other pet-owners.

Petting and talking to a pet reduces high blood pressure and stress. Some individuals find it very soothing to speak about their troubles with their pet, even over another human, perhaps due to the fact that a pet does not judge us and loves us unconditionally.

Of course, cats and dogs are not the only types of pets one can own. While they are the most common, there are many other types of pets which some may find amazing such as reptiles, ferrets, or even a fish.  Having this companion helps people know they are wanted and needed.  While all companions are great, it is true that certain pets cost more than others. This does have potential to wreak havoc on a fixed income.

If buying pet food, paying vet bills, and walking regularly is going to be very difficult, one may want to look into owning a pet which requires less round the clock care such as a fish.  Before investing in a companion, research your potential costs and measure it against your budget.  You will want to ensure this new friend is something you can handle because nothing will be more heart-wrenching for you or them if you have to give them back.

Some seniors may really wish to own a pet but realize it does not fit with their lifestyle due to finances or health reasons. Simply being around animals is also an option. You may be able to go for walks in parks and enjoy nature, such as birds and butterflies. If you have any friends or family with pets, visiting with them and spending time with their pets may also be a viable option.

With the recognition within psychology and health care of just how much pets do benefit, many hospitals, nursing and retirement homes now have an animal companion programs wherein an animal (typically a cat or dog) spends time with the residents.  Some facilities even have their own pets living at this residences full time.

Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that these companions really can reduce your stress and most importantly, provide a connection and companionship you never thought you would have.

Photo via Dogs in Duds

1 Comment

  • Connie Lipton
    Posted April 17, 2013 11:54 pm 0Likes

    Beautiful!  We have had two dogs for many years until recently when one of them passed at the wonderful old age of 13 dog years.  Now we have one and can’t imagine life without one.  They are so much fun to be with.  Yes, other types of pets are great too, but our preference is definitely a dog.  The commitment mentioned in the post is so true.  They are living creatures and as such get sick occasionally and need their teeth cleaned!  Love, Love, Love having a dog!

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