Having a four-legged or winged companion isn't just for the young and working. In fact, according to new findings by Michigan Health, 55% of adults ages 50-80 have a pet. However, the same study has shown that 6% of those adults said they had injured themselves while walking their dog or doing other aspects of pet care. Having a pet can be beneficial for older adults, but it's also important to pick the right type of pet that will suit one's lifestyle and activity levels. That being said, here are three pet options for seniors who are looking for a furry companion, but don't necessarily have the energy to take care of cats and dogs.
When upkeep and costs are at a minimum, these scaled companions can provide an easy-to-care option for seniors, especially for those with mobility issues. While small freshwater fishes may require regular feeding along with special filters and lighting, once everything is set up, the overall upkeep of a fish is minimal, especially when automated feeders are utilized. Another benefit of adopting a fish is they do not require excessive amounts of cleaning and do not need a lot of space. Just simply observing an aquarium helps reduces anxiety by a measurable amount and lower heart rate among older adults by 5 to 6 beats per minute, according to Vivo Fish.
Hamsters are one of the more underappreciated pets, especially in comparison to their more popular rivals--cats and dogs. But for older adults who are looking for a low-maintenance, furry companion that does not require obedience courses or litter box training, hamsters may be just the best option for them. How to play with a hamster is one of the most common questions among new pet owners, but there are endless playtime options available like exercising in a ball or running on their wheels. On top of being low-maintenance, studies have shown that owning a hamster can help to decrease stress, and they're perfect for busy seniors since they don't need constant attention. These cuties are a joy to watch because of the fact that they're so tiny and each hamster has its own unique personality.
Aside from fishes and hamsters, birds can also be an equally fun and friendly companion for older adults who are living at home alone. Different breeds may have varying levels of care and upkeep, but regardless of what kind of bird they choose to adopt, they can bring a nice singing voice into the home. When kept healthy and happy, these beautiful feathered friends will reward their owners in so many wonderful ways. In fact, medical research by Northern Parrots has shown that the company of pet birds can significantly prompt social interaction among their owners as they have someone to share little moments with, and they also give them a reason to get up in the morning, particularly when they live alone.
Overall, adopting a pet brings light into the lives of older adults and provides them with much-needed companionship and a sense of purpose after retirement. Nonetheless, finding the right pet requires factoring out all the lifestyle changes and difficulties associated with having pets around in order to determine if the pros far outweigh the cons.