It’s pretty well-known that having a pet can be a huge physical and mental help to a lot of people. Whether the person is struggling to be active because of an injury or disability or the person needs a form of companionship, having a pet is often the solution. Cuddling up with a furry cat can make one feel wanted and needed. Taking a dog out for a walk can provide fresh air and exercise.

               Pet therapy can be great for seniors as well. If you’re thinking about getting a pet for the senior under your care (whether that’s your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, or someone else), know that there are so many benefits to adding an animal to a person’s daily life. This decision often benefits the pets as well, especially if they are older and/or coming from a shelter.

Some possible benefits of having a pet:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Encourages physical activity and socialization
  • Lowers anxiety, lifts spirits, and lowers depression

Of course, there are also a few things to keep in mind. The pet is supposed to be a comfort, not a burden. Get a pet that won’t be too tiresome or high-maintenance. A slightly more tranquil dog will encourage daily walks. If dogs are too high-energy, maybe a cat is the way to go. If not, a fish might be a good idea. While you can’t pet a fish or play with a fish, it still is a pet and will require a little bit of time and attention from the owner.

If the senior doesn’t want a pet, don’t get him or her a pet. It won’t be of any benefit to your mom or dad to take care of an animal he or she didn’t want in the first place. The only way senior pet therapy will work is if the senior actually wants a pet to bond with.

Some things to think about before getting a pet:

  • It’s a responsibility. It’ll take up time and energy to take care of the chosen pet. Before adopting a pet, keep this in mind and take into account the future owner’s limitations.
  • Has the senior owned a pet before? If the senior has a particular preference, that might be the way to go. Keep in mind what types of pets he or she has had in the past and which kinds of pets he or she is used to taking care of.
  • How active can the senior be? If a daily walk is no big deal, then an easy-tempered dog shouldn’t be a problem. Otherwise, try thinking of some alternatives that are a little more low-maintenance.
  • Make sure personalities match. Will the two of them be able to get along? You don’t want to adopt a pet that will actually make the senior’s life more difficult. Get a pet that is easy-going. Interacting with the pet beforehand will certainly make a difference.

Hopefully you now feel prepared to ask the right questions before choosing a pet for the senior under your care. Most importantly, though, make sure your mom or dad has fun with the pet you’ve picked out. If all goes well, this pet will be a huge improvement in their life.