The other day I was walking my dogs, Calvin and Clive, with my senior neighbor, Pam,* and her fluffy dog, Zoe. (You know, the one who loves to pole walk.) My dogs absolutely love Pam and Zoe, and as soon as I leave my house with them they drag me to Pam and Zoe’s house in hopes of seeing their favorite “girlfriends.”
On this particular walk, Pam was talking about moving into a 55-plus community. She had found a really nice place, but no pets were allowed.
“How ridiculous!” I exclaimed. I couldn’t help but think of Zoe’s birthday party where Pam and I ate chicken salad and chatted while our pups ate way too much birthday cake and chased each other through Pam’s house.
No, Pam wouldn’t be moving into a community that didn’t allow pets. Zoe was way more than just a pet, she was a part of the family.
Pets offer a variety of benefits for seniors, such as companionship, physical and mental improvements, and a sense of security and protection. However, there are also difficulties, challenges and practical implications to think about.
Here are three issues to consider before purchasing a pet:
- Physical capabilities. Assess your or your loved one’s ability to care for the pet. Will your parent be able to take a dog on walks or clean up a litter box?
- The age of the pet. Let’s be honest, while puppies are cute, the training is brutal! Depending on the support a senior has in place, a puppy may not be the best option. Adopting an older cat or dog may be a better option. Some pet adoption agencies provide a “Senior for Senior” service where older cats and dogs are placed in senior homes.
- Financial obligation. Pets are an added expense, from food, grooming, doctors’ visits, and ongoing medicine such as heartworm. The bills can quickly add up, so having an accurate understanding of what you can afford is an important step.
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