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Pet ownership is beneficial for seniors

Having friends and family to spend time with is increasingly important as we grow older. The connection is good for mental, physical and spiritual well-being. For many people, the definition of family extends to pets. They are a source of companionship, affection and unconditional love.

Having a pet can give a senior a sense of purpose after they retire or when their kids are grown and gone. If you haven’t already given it some thought, adopting a senior pet might be a good option to consider.

Seniors often find that owning a pet offers not only friendship but also a variety of health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, having a furry friend helps lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Research also shows that older adults who have a pet exercise more and experience fewer incidences of depression. Other benefits of pet ownership include:

  • Socialization: Walking a dog is a great way to meet people and expand your social circle. Whether it’s with the neighbors or fellow dog lovers at the park, socializing and staying connected are important to better health.

  • Living with purpose: Knowing a friend is counting on you, even a furry or feathered one, provides a sense of purpose. That is one more key to aging well.

  • Lower stress level: The very act of petting a cat or scratching behind a dog’s ears has been proven to reduce stress. For an older adult with a chronic health condition or someone who is grieving, pets can be very therapeutic.

If you are considering adopting a pet for yourself or a senior loved one, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, assess your budget or your older family member’s. Can they realistically afford to have a pet? For example, some types of cats and dogs are more expensive to maintain than others. Be sure you understand the financial costs of any potential pet, whether it is grooming for long-haired cats and dogs or veterinary bills for animals known to need extra care.

Next, think about the type of animal and what their disposition tends to be. For example, a high-energy dog like a Jack Russell or a Boxer might be too much for a senior, especially one with mobility challenges. Also take space requirements into account. A cat might be better for an older adult who has limited yard space or doesn’t live near a dog park.

Our final tip is to consider adopting a senior pet. Local rescue organizations usually have a tougher time finding homes for older cats and dogs, even though they generally make great companions. Most are house-trained and calmer than a puppy or kitten. Many local shelters even have websites you can visit to learn about the animals that are currently up for adoption, and the process to follow to bring them home.

Because we understand that pets are family too, American Senior Communities are pet friendly. If you’ve been contemplating making a move to an independent living community in Indiana, we invite you to call an ASC location near you to schedule a tour. 


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