Adopt­ing a dog or cat later in life

The Hamilton Spectator - - YOUNG AT HEART -

Com­pan­ion an­i­mals bring great joy to their own­ers. The un­con­di­tional love cats and dogs pro­vide ap­peals to peo­ple of all ages.While many peo­ple as­so­ciate pets with kids who can’t wait to welcome the first cat or dog into their homes, pets can ben­e­fit ag­ing men and women as well.

It’s not uncommon for se­niors to feel lonely or de­pressed when they re­tire, their chil­dren move away or they lose a spouse or close friend or friends.The Amer­i­can Hu­mane So­ci­ety states that stud­ies show pets help se­niors over­come lone­li­ness and de­pres­sion by pro­vid­ing af­fec­tion, com­pany and en­ter­tain­ment. Pets also pro­vide much-needed men­tal stim­u­la­tion, and many pet own­ers find their pets help them be­come more phys­i­cally ac­tive as well.

Se­niors who adopt pets may also feel a sense of pur­pose when help­ing an­i­mals who may not have any­where to live.This is par­tic­u­larly true of older com­pan­ion an­i­mals, which many young fam­i­lies are un­der­stand­ably hes­i­tant to adopt. Ma­ture pets might be an ideal fit for se­niors. When se­niors are look­ing to adopt a pet, there are var­i­ous rea­sons why older pets or par­tic­u­lar an­i­mals might be the per­fect fit for them.

· Adult pets may al­ready be house trained, sav­ing se­niors the trou­ble and ef­fort of train­ing them.

· Se­niors may find cats fit their lifestyles more than dogs, as cats are less ac­tive and do not need to be walked or played with as much as dogs. Cats also are small and eas­ily ma­neu­ver­able, mean­ing even se­niors who have arthri­tis or other phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions can eas­ily care for cats. Many cats are also con­tent to spend long pe­ri­ods of time sleep­ing on their own­ers’ laps.

· Small dogs that can be ac­tive within the house might be a good idea as well, es­pe­cially for se­niors with mo­bil­ity is­sues. They’re also eas­ily trans­ported to and from vet ap­point­ments.

It’s im­por­tant that se­niors care­fully weigh the ben­e­fits of adopt­ing a pet against any lim­i­ta­tions they may have. Hav­ing a backup plan for care is ad­van­ta­geous as well. Se­niors should not adopt a pet if they an­tic­i­pate fre­quent travel or med­i­cal care that re­quires they be away from home for long pe­ri­ods of time. (MC)

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