Pets Can Provide Much Needed Comfort & Companionship for Seniors

People who have never owned pets might not be aware of the sense of wonder and well-being that stems from having a four-legged companion. My hope is that my words here will help you understand not only the benefits of owning a pet, but also help family members and other seniors consider the possibility of adopting a pet, especially a “senior” pet looking for a loving home.

Pets can provide much needed comfort and companionship for people of all ages—especially seniors—and especially at this time of year as winter cold often keeps people shut-in and feelings of stress and depression spike around the holidays.

Pets not only help decrease stress and blood pressure, they also increase social interaction and physical activity. Animals keep people in the moment, increase their sense of well-being and give them something else to focus on besides physical limitations, feelings of loneliness, and aging. In particular, retired persons who adopt pets usually have more time to devote to them, a quality especially important for some rescue animals. Also, an older pet tends to be calmer and quieter.

Some points to ponder before adopting a pet:

  • Have you owned a pet before?
  • Do you have any functional limits or disabilities that might affect your ability to care for a pet?
  • The pet’s age and life span (kittens or puppies require more care and training while senior pets are usually well-trained).
  • One pet, rather than two, usually bonds better with an owner.
  • Consider your budget and any expenses involved in caring for your “new” pet.
  • Research the cost of the pet adoption process.

Adoption offers pets a second chance. They may have been given up by owners unable to care for them any longer or they may have been neglected. Some adoption services may offer discounts for seniors, and most will want to meet the new owner. Before adopting, make sure you have your new pet examined by a professional veterinarian.

Being a senior pet owner comes with additional responsibilities, including having a “Plan B.”  Given what life may bring, everyone, even pets, require a back-up plan for when medical emergencies occur.  Who could take over the care of your pet if you needed to be hospitalized or spend time recuperating in a rehab facility? Also, be realistic. Surrendering a pet, when you are no longer able to properly care for your pet, is the most compassionate and loving step of all. Some pet owners may even be able to arrange for “visiting hours” to lessen the pain of separation.

Whether adopting a pet is the right choice depends on each person and each pet’s unique circumstance. When those circumstances favor adoption, it’s truly a win-win situation for all that can add joy, companionship, and a little love to your life and to the life of a pet.

For more information on adopting a pet, I urge you to visit the Northeast Animal Shelter website. Established in 1976, they are one of New England’s largest non-profit, no-kill animal shelters.


Lifestyle: Seniors and Pets @  (accessed 9 December 2019)

Local Resource: Northeast Animal Shelter @

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