By now we’ve all read about the therapeutic value a furry friend can bring to older adults and those living with chronic illnesses. Organizations like ReCHAI have demonstrated just how much pets can do to help reduce stress, promote mobility and reduce loneliness in older adults.

So what kinds of pet should you consider for the Michigan senior you love?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Dogs can help your loved one get up and moving. They promote mobility and also help to improve social interaction. After a few laps around the neighborhood, a dog will likely have made a few new friends. Studies have shown have a dog to care for and walk can also help decrease blood pressure and rates of depression. While a puppy might be a little too high energy for an older adult, your local shelter will likely have more middle-aged dogs looking for a good home.
  • Cats are ideal companions for older adults who live in apartments or condos with more limited space. They typically need less care and can adapt to a smaller environment.
  • Birds aren’t always thought of as pets for seniors. If you visit an assisted living community or a dementia care residence, however, you may find yourself reconsidering that idea. Many have aviaries for residents to interact with every day. Watching and listening to birds has been found to reduce for seniors and those living with dementia.
  • Fish can also be great pets for helping to reduce anxiety. Just kicking back and watching fish swim around can be very relaxing. They are also low maintenance and less expensive to feed and maintain than other types of pets.

Choosing the Right Pet for a Senior

There are a few additional things to consider in your search for a pet for a Michigan senior loved one. They include:

  • Be sure to take in to account all of the costs of a pet from food expenses to veterinary care and grooming.
  • How much care a pet requires is an important consideration. Can your aging loved one safely walk a dog in the ice and snow?
  • Depending upon where your senior loved one lives, space and association restrictions need to be consider.

Finally, consider talking with a veterinarian in your area to see what suggestions they have. They likely see older adults and their pets every day and can offer advice.

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Dogs for Depression: How Pets Benefit Older Adults

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