Having a pet can prove to be the best therapy and companion for anyone and for older adults. Loneliness can be a factor for seniors especially if he or she is a widow or they live far from family. Pet ownership can mean companionship for those able to care for pets. Studies prove that people who have pets as companions have happier spirits particularly if they live alone.
However, caring for pets is no light matter and there are certain responsibilities to consider when considering a companion pet for eldery adults. One suggestion to keep in consideration is to not surprise an older senior with a pet. The idea may seem sweet but the the challenges that come along with pet ownership should be discussed before making the commitment to a furry companion.
Choosing a Companion Pet
Dogs tend to be people friendly but they also require daily walks and more attention. If the senior is fairly active, this may not be a problem. Cats (not kittens) are lower maintenance and often make excellent companions for senior adults. On a basic level, cats need food, a litter box and a few toys in addition to companionship.
Birds can also prove valuable companions for seniors as long as a little insight goes into finding the right bird. Birds have their own space and can provide beautiful music. On a basic level, birds need a cage, paper changed out, water and food.
How Much is Too Much?
It’s important to consider adoption or purchase costs, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, a cage or crate and initial food and toys. The routine costs include items such as food, toys, vet visits, medications and grooming.
Generally, larger animals require more money so this is important to consider. However, seniors can look into lower cost options with a trusted family member or friend. For example, a pet store or adoption place may prove to be less expensive for medicines or shots.
The American Pet Products Association says routine vet visits cost dog owners $257 in 2017, while cat owners paid an average of $182. Basic food for either type of animal cost $235 last year.
Looking Into Alternatives
Pet stores also have animals in store waiting on adoption. A quick trip with a reliable source can prove to be a fun outing proven to lift spirits. Check with the local pet store and see what interactions are available.
Whatever course of action you take, the result is a rewarding and positive experience. Just remember to take all consequences into consideration before taking the leap.