Is there anything better than a cat choosing to sit on your lap or seeing your dog’s face light up when you come home?

For seniors who have small friend groups, a pet can brighten up their homes and lives. And for caregivers, a pet for Mom or Dad can supplement your daily visits (and may even have some health benefits).

A pet is a friend, comforter and protector

Why live alone when you can live with a best friend?

Companionship: As we age, our friend groups shrink and it is too easy to end up alone at home. With a pet, there is always someone to greet Mom or Dad when they get home. Pets are never off-duty when it comes to being your best friend.

Less stress: There’s a reason that they call spending time with animals “therapy.” Snuggling with their fur and seeing those wagging tails can produce feel-good chemicals in the brain and can reduce the hormones that cause stress.

Security: Being alone in your home can be frightening. An elderly parent may feel more secure at home if there is a pet patrolling the house. Dark corners get brighter with a furry friend around.

A pet won’t settle for doing nothing all day

Pets demand attention, incentivizing parents to keep busy.

Routine: Pets thrive off routine. From regular feeding schedules to regular walks, having a pet means a reason to get up in the morning. Mom or Dad may not want to get up in the morning, but the pet will want to — and they will make that known.

Exercise: When a pet needs exercising that usually means the owner needs to get moving too. Rather than forcing Mom or Dad to exercise, you can put the focus on the pet needing to get out and about. The pet gets walked and Mom or Dad gets exercise without even knowing it.

Outside time: There’s no replacement for some fresh air and vitamin D. When their pet plays outside, elderly folks gets all the health benefits that time outside can bring. Plus, getting out means more opportunities to run across a new friend or two.

A pet will get you out in the world

A pet means no more empty nest and an incentive to explore the world.

New things to do: Could your aging relatives use a new hobby? From going to the dog park to entering competitions to photography, there are plenty of pet-related activities. Trying a new hobby is less scary with a furry friend!

New friends to make: One of the best parts of finding a new hobby is meeting the other people who are interested in the same things. It’s one of the easiest ways to make new friends. If Mom or Dad has been feeling lonely, a pet can introduce some new people into their life.

A pet can change your life

For those feeling the effects of aging, a pet might be just the perfect pick-up. From keeping people company in the house to getting them out and about, they will no longer have an empty nest. Whether it’s a dog or a cat or another species altogether, consider getting your aging friend or relative a furry new friend. JN

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm.

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