Pets are an important part of our lifestyle.
Pets provide a lot of health benefits for older adults. That’s why Rolling Green Village retirement community gives residents the freedom to bring their animal companion (be it dog, cat or bird) to live with them. This article will discuss the many reasons we have pet-friendly apartments for our senior residents and why pets are so beneficial to seniors’ health and happiness.
Health benefits of pets for seniors.
Studies have shown pets are good for physical and emotional well-being by providing opportunities to socialize with others and increasing activity levels. Dog-walking especially is associated with a lower body mass index, fewer doctor’s visits and more frequent exercise.
Specific benefits include:
- Brain Health
Petting an animal raises the level of “feel-good” hormones – serotonin and oxytocin – in our brain, increasing feelings of pleasure, relaxation and calm. At the same time, levels of stress-causing hormones go down, reducing blood cholesterol levels and the risk of depression and heart disease.
- Physical Health
Getting up to feed the cat, playing fetch, or even cleaning out a bunny cage are forms of mild exercise. Walking your dog regularly provides plenty of benefits to your physical health. Plus, you could show less mental and physical decline as you age. Having a canine companion has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and most surprisingly, aid survival and recovery from a heart attack. Dog walking is also a great way to strike up a conversation when neighbors and strangers stop to admire or pat your pooch.
- Emotional Health
Animal companions can help people feel needed, and caring for a pet provides a sense of purpose. If you’re feeling blue, the devotion of a cherished animal can make you feel like you have a friend. Pets don’t care who we are, what we look like or how old we are. Their unconditional love comforts us and deeply affects our happiness and health.
Best pets for seniors.
Senior living communities typically have a weight limit for dogs. Some small dog breeds make the best pets for the elderly, including:
- Japanese Chin
- Shih Tzu
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Boston Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Yorkshire Terrier
Remember, older pets are better than puppies for older adults because they’re typically trained, housebroken, obey commands and can walk well on a leash. To find a good older pet, start by checking your local animal shelter.
Help with pet care for the elderly.
While pets provide seniors with companionship and many health benefits, caring for a dog or cat can be expensive for those on a fixed income. Groups like Meals on Wheels help seniors care for their pets with Meals on Wheels Loves Pets. It works with programs across the country to help keep homebound seniors together with their pets by providing services like pet food and storage, cat litter, pet supplies, grooming, veterinary care, boarding expenses, and gas for volunteers.
If you’re having trouble affording care for your pet, The Humane Society of the United States recommends trying to work with your veterinarian:
- Negotiate a payment plan: If you’re a client in good standing, they may be happy to work out a weekly or monthly payment plan.
- Offer to perform a service for your vet: Maybe in lieu of cash, you could clean kennels, answer phones or perform other work.
- Get a second opinion: Another vet may have other, less expensive ways to treat your pet. Note: You may have to pay a consultation fee.
- Use a vet in a less-expensive area: Vets in smaller towns tend to charge lower fees.
- Check out local veterinary schools: Many schools run low-cost clinics for limited-income clients.
Questions to ask pet-friendly retirement communities.
If you’re considering a retirement community and want to take your pet with you, here are some questions to ask:
- What are the community’s rules regarding pets?
- What kind of pets are allowed?
- Is there a safe place to take my pet for a walk?
- Is there an enclosed dog park where my pet can play?
- Is the pet area well lit at night?
- Is there a designated place for my pet to use the bathroom?
- Is there a weight limit for my pet?
What if my loved one can’t care for a pet?
While it’s true that pet care for seniors can be a lot of responsibility, the health benefits of seniors and their pets can still be received by caring for an animatronic (or robotic) pet. They’ve also proven beneficial to seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by helping them relax and providing them with a sense of purpose and joy. And best of all, robotic pets don’t have to fed, groomed, let outside or taken to the vet.
To see just how much we love pets, use our contact form to schedule a personal visit.