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Pets & Their Impact on Seniors

Guest Blogger: Jocelyn Strassel, MS, CVT, CDBC ~ Clinical Behaviorist MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center

The Benefits of Owning a Pet

According to American Humane, half of adults over the age of 50 have at least one pet! This is heartwarming news because studies have shown pets improve seniors’ overall well-being. Physical health has been shown to improve, specifically the lowering of both blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, pets tend to encourage more exercise and walking in nature – both have been proven to improve our cognitive functioning. It does not stop with physical fitness either; our furry roommates also improve our mental health with studies showing a decrease in depression and their ability to spark socialization

Things to Consider Before Adopting a Pet

Before considering the adoption of a pet, there are a few factors to consider:

  • One’s physical abilities and ease of mobility, to properly care for them.
  • Home environment, enough room for a dog or space to stash the kitty litter.
  • Monthly household budget, you may even want to investigate pet insurance.

Choosing the Right Animal:

Cats & Small Dogs

Next, consider what type of animal would fit into your world! Cats can be comparatively smaller in size and can live indoors exclusively. Smaller dogs are also a good fit; owners can pick them up if needed, and there tends to be a lower risk of injury. Those lovable fur babies can jump or pull sharply on a leash when excited accidentally hurting their beloved owner. SQUIRREL!

Large Dogs

If you have a ‘tradition’ of larger dogs in your family, consider adopting an adult (2.5 years or older) or a senior dog from your local shelter. While those puppy-dog eyes may melt your heart, puppies require a lot of time and energy to properly train and socialize. An adult dog has typically ‘settled into’ their personality. This gives you a more definitive idea of their quirks than if you adopt a puppy or adolescent dog whose personality and behavior may still be ‘flowering.’

Senior Animals

Working for the Massachusetts SPCA, I would be remiss if I did not encourage the adoption of senior animals near you! Here are a few tips:

  • Choose dogs (and cats!) that have a known history of living successfully with a family, and that are friendly with strangers. 
  • Make sure to meet the dog before adoption and interact with it and bring a friend (or two!) to weigh in. 
  • Do not rely on breed as a predictor of temperament (behavior is not linked to breed alone!).
  • Ask about a foster-to-adopt option where you can foster the dog to make sure it is a good match before committing to adoption.

Fish & Other Types of Small Animals

While I have shared different insights into finding the right cat or dog, small mammals such as hamsters can also be a great choice and typically require much less work. A fish tank is a great option for those who want a low-maintenance companion.  

Traditions Management Is a Pet-Friendly Environment

We appreciate Jocelyn taking the time to share her insights! All our buildings are pet-friendly and we love to have pets visit them. In fact, some of our staff's woofers are regular visitors. New residents should check in with the Executive Director for all types of pets.

Get In Touch With Traditions Management

It is our mission to maximize the quality of life for each member of the Traditions community through genuine and uncompromising care and service. Find the nearest Traditions Management community to you and contact them to discuss the best service plan for you or a loved one.