With an increasingly ageing population in Australia, there are many benefits of pet ownership for seniors. Having pets to love & care for remains popular for people of all ages, including the elderly.
Research has shown having a pet has several benefits for older adults, including increased physical activity and better overall health. They are also less inclined to suffer from loneliness, depression and anxiety. Pets can improve the overall health and wellbeing of older people.
There are always those finer details to consider in your retirement years. Our families and our pets are so important to us, and retiring doesn’t always mean that you have to say goodbye to your family pet. Many retirement villages allow pets nowadays. They also have options for the family to come and stay. Be sure to find out before you make the final purchase.
Considerations When Choosing a Pet to Love & Care For
Adopting or fostering a pet is not for everyone. There are many issues to consider before becoming a pet owner.
Firstly, consider the size of the pet and the activity level that they will require. If you have limited mobility, a smaller pet could be a better choice for you. If you have a large dog, for instance, they’ll require regular walking and could prove to be too difficult to handle.
Secondly, consider the cost of having a pet and whether you can afford it. Pets can be really expensive. Food alone can add up, especially if your pet is a fussy eater. Also, if your pet requires surgery or they suffer from a chronic condition, the vet bills can be very expensive. There are some great pet insurance options out there, however, this can be costly too.
Finally, consider your health status and if you will have someone to look after your pet if you become ill. As you get older, the risks of injury and illness increase, and the need to be admitted to hospital increases. Understandably, you might want to travel intermittently during retirement. This is also another reason to have a person or a few people that are able to step in and help with your pet if you need them too.
How Pets Can Improve Your Quality of Life
Nevertheless, having a pet in your life can improve your quality of life. Dog ownership, in particular, encourages us to get outdoors each day and go for a walk. This leads to increased physical activity. Additionally, it can lead to social interactions with other pet owners. This can consequently lead to improvements in your overall health and wellbeing.
Furthermore, pet ownership offers companionship and something to love. It also gives you a sense of purpose when you look after and care for a pet. And many people who live alone feel a sense of security when they live with a pet.
Travelling With a Pet
For older Australians who enjoy travelling as a part of retirement, there are now several caravan parks, camping sites and apartments that are pet friendly. But then again, if you want to go on a long cruise or stay in a 5-star hotel, you might want to hunt around for a reliable pet sitter or pet boarding facility. There are reputable pet sitting businesses in most major cities and regions.
Mobility and Pet Ownership
As people get older their bodies don’t necessarily work as well as they once did. As previously mentioned, choosing a pet that matches your mobility is a great idea. Also, consider that your mobility may decline over time. If you have mobility limitations, choosing a smaller pet that is easier to manage will work better for you.
Housing Considerations for Seniors Who Want to Own a Pet
For those who live in a retirement village or community, pet ownership may not be possible. If you’re adamant on having a pet, be sure to factor this in when you’re looking at a property to move into. Especially if you already own a pet and you’re downsizing from the family home.
Pet Lovers Who Can’t Own a Pet
If you’ve always had pets to love & care for, the thought of no longer having a pet can be devastating. It could be due to you no longer being able to care for your animal, or it could be that you can’t have a pet where you’re moving to.
For those who can’t look after a pet on their own anymore, there are many residential care facilities that have resident cats or dogs. Every resident gets to enjoy the companionship without having to walk and feed the animals. They can simply have those pets to love and care for.
If you don’t live in residential care, but you can’t have a pet for whatever reason, there are places that you can go to and enjoy the animals. For example, there are cafes around that have puppies running around that you can play with. This is so that the puppies can be socialised among humans.
Support to Keep Your Pet With You
A pet can mean everything to an older person, especially if they live alone. There are options available to help you keep your pet with you for as long as possible. But before you access these services, consider asking your friends and family for help with caring for your animals. If you’re unable to get their support in all areas, you can consider contacting support services such as the RSPCA NSW. They offer a community aged care program. If you need help looking after your pet, contact your local RSPCA or My Aged Care to discuss additional support.
Some of the help that is available includes emergency pet boarding if you’re hospitalised, and assistance with veterinary treatment. Some services also offer home visits and assistance with grooming and walking your pet.
Finally, there are many benefits to owning a pet as you get older. While there are some challenges, there is an undeniable belief that pet ownership can improve your overall wellbeing. In saying that, whether you have a rabbit, dog, cat or goldfish, be sure to choose pets to love that you’re able to look after. They will be great companions for years to come.