Every year, 7.6 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters. 2.7 million of those pets will be euthanized, reports the ASPCA. Helping your mom or dad adopt one of these abandoned animals could save both their lives.
While you should never adopt an animal behind your parent’s back, encouraging a senior to adopt a pet can improve your loved one’s life, attitude, health and well-being in 5 key ways.
1. Gain a companion.
When was the last time someone touched you to say hello or came over to spend the day with you? Human contact nurtures infants, reduces adolescent aggression and reduces anxiety, and it's important for you, too. Unfortunately, you might go days without being touched or hanging out with a friend. A pet provides you with constant companionship and eases your loneliness. Plus, you can take your pet with you on errands, nap and play together, and eat with your furry friend. Pets make great therapists, too, as they listen while you talk through problems. Whether you live alone, have a roommate, get out of the house often or are homebound, your pet provides you with companionship and joy.
2. Get more exercise.
Do you worry that mom or dad is losing mobility or not getting enough regular exercise? Pet adoption could be the thing that gets them moving. Playing with and cleaning up after a pet can help an older adult stay mobile and limber. Staying active can be challenging as we age, but a pet can be the thing that keeps you moving and helps you get the exercise needed for a stronger body and mind.
3. Connect with a community.
If retirement, relocation, health challenges or death has limited your elderly parent’s social circle, adopting a pet may be the solution. There's almost no faster way to meet people and make friends than by going out for a walk with a dog! Whether it’s just a quick walk around the block or a jaunt to the neighborhood dog park, everyone wants to stop to chat and pet the pup. And, if mom lives in a retirement community, neighbors love stopping in to pet a snuggly and adorable cat.
4. Feel less stressed.
Up to 76 percent of pet owners feel less stressed, reports the American Animal Hospital Association, and so can your loved one. The simple, repetitive act of petting or brushing a pet can lower blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature, helping older adults feel more calm. Exercising with a pet also reduces stress, encouraging a senior pet owner to move and enjoy fresh air and a change of scenery. Unless Fluffy or Fido has a serious chronic illness that requires constant attention and financial investment, dogs and cats, undeniably, have a stress-reducing effect on their owners—and that's always a good thing.
5. Gain a sense of purpose.
With the kids and grandkids grown and moved away, and no nine-to-five job to keep them busy, many seniors slowly begin to feel useless and depressed or dwell on their problems, aches and pains. A pet provides older adults with a reason to get up every day. After all, if mom doesn't walk the dog or feed the cat, who will? Pets rely on their owners, and a senior’s morale, self-worth and optimism thrive, too, when a pet gives you a reason to get out of bed and live.
Visit your local shelter to find the furry friend mom needs.
Before heading out to the local animal shelter, you’ll obviously need to see what kind of animals are permitted in their apartment lease. There’s no better time to start talking about how having a pet could improve your loved one’s life than Homeless Animals Day.