It’s not a question of “if” a senior should have a pet, it’s a question of “what”. As you’ll notice in the article that follows, a pet can have a very positive effect on a senior’s health!
Pets being a good fit for senior citizens and the way that pets help seniors live longer, healthier, happier lives is generally accepted as true as the folks who study this kind of thing have found a direct correlation between a senior citizens mental alertness, physical stamina, and length of life to whether or not they have a pet. There is not too much disagreement on that front. But which pets are best? How do pets keep up life in the elderly? Should the pet have a long life expectancy? Where can you go to make that adoption?
Which Pets Are Best: While a turtle or a goldfish may require little to no supervision and very little care, actually, for a pet to have health benefit for an elderly person there does need to be some give and take. Maybe it’s the paternal instinct in human beings that keeps the elderly vigilant but making sure that the pet is walked, fed, has clean water, adequate sleeping quarters, and is otherwise happy seems to work best for the elderly. In terms of which pet is best, there’s the dog and cat, obviously. A bird may make too much noise or be too wily; a bunny rabbit is a good pet for the elderly. There are others which may be more suitable to your individual elderly person. For example if they’ve always had a fascination with a parrot and teaching it to speak (and it’s not too loud for them) then maybe a bird would work best for your elderly person.
How Do Pets Keep Life Up in Elderly: By putting the burden of caretaker on an elderly person, you may actually be prolonging their life. It’s still somewhat conjecture as to the actual reasons for it but if your elderly family member or friend has a pet to care for then they may be a lot more likely to stick around.
Should the Pet Have Long Life Expectancy: It’s generally thought that you should choose an older pet over a younger one. Younger pets tend to have more energy, which may be disagreeable, but you do wonder about the death of a pet before it’s owner and how that could drive a sad person further into depression.
Where Should You Go To Make the Adoption: The ASPCA, local shelter, or humane society are all great places to pair up your elderly individual with a pet. Make sure to take the elderly with you when selecting the pet so that they find just the right pet for their desires.
Excerpt from an article by Jesse Schmitt on Yahoo June 21, 2010