How Pets Enhance Senior Living
by Kelly Burkett
Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives…
John Grogan, author of Marley & Me
Throughout the centuries and around the world, pets have provided a special companionship for people. It is especially important to have a pet/pets as we age because seniors often experience loneliness or even depression. Friends and family members pass away, mobility may become an issue and home is more central to daily life. Studies have indicated that bringing a pet into the home of an elderly person makes a difference. www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/
Why are animals so important to us? Many famous people were especially close to their pets or animal companions: Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger appeared together in all of the actor’s motion pictures. Paul McCartney wrote a song as a tribute to his sheepdog Martha and John Steinbeck penned a book about his travels with his poodle Charley. Two famous authors who had pets throughout their lives were Ernest Hemingway and George Bernard Shaw. George Bernard Shaw was an animal rights activist who was surrounded by animals throughout his life. Ernest Hemingway is quite famous for his love of cats. Legend has it that a sea captain gave the writer’s sons a polydactyl cat named Daisy in 1930. Nearly 90 years later, fifty-four mostly six-toed felines live in the Hemingway House located in Key West.
The type of pet best for the aging Baby Boomer should be determined in large part by the ability, budget, and mobility of the individual. For example, the homebound may find a cat to be an easier pet to care for. On the other hand, if you are still active, walking a dog is not only great exercise but a great way to engage people you may meet in conversation. If you are spending your golden years on the road, cats make great pets because their independent natures are in sync with an out-and-about lifestyle.
When both our children went off to college, life changed. The house felt empty and then suddenly in stepped Roger and Lily, who were abandoned on my Mom’s porch. She had already adopted 4 rescue cats, so these two little bundles of fur found their way into our home and hearts at 3 weeks old. My husband and I have found our “empty nester” years to be greatly enhanced by the presence of our tabbies. They make us smile every day and I feel good because we adopted kittens that would not have survived in the inner city. During the pandemic, our daughter relocated near us, adopting Woolfie, so we now have a “grand” kitten.
Victoria Fox, the President/CFO of Accessibility Solutions talks about the impact her rescue dog has had on her life:
“As empty-nesters, our pitbull Riley has become an important part of our lives. Now that he’s here We can’t imagine life without our dog.. As a companion, he goes with me on walks, watches tv with us, goes on vacation, works as an official door greeter, and even accompanies me to the office.”