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The Best Pets for Seniors in Independent Living

two seniors play with their dogs outside

The Importance of Picking the Right Pets for Seniors

No matter what age you are (or feel), bringing a pet into your home and heart provides many physical and emotional benefits. The right pet can actually help reduce stress, increase physical activity and even supply unconditional love. These benefits are even more important for seniors.

Benefits of Pets for Seniors

Many studies have proven that older adults enjoy a number of positive benefits when they bring a pet into their lives. Dogs, cats and even birds offer companionship and can fill senior apartments with added love and activity.

The University of Michigan/AARP 2019 National Poll on Healthy Aging surveyed 2,051 adults between the ages of 50 and 80. More than half the participants reported that they owned a pet. And of the pet owners, 79% said their pet helped reduce their stress. 88% indicated that their pets helped them enjoy life, and 86% said their pets made them feel loved. Why is this important? Well more than 40% of seniors admit to experiencing loneliness on a regular basis. If left untreated, this seemingly innocuous issue can lead to a wide range of health problems.

Additional Benefits of Pets for Seniors

  • Pets ease pain.
  • Pets help seniors stick to a routine
  • Pets make people more sociable
  • Pets keep aging adults active

There are a number of articles, blog posts and reports that list the best dogs for seniors, but we wanted to dive deeper into the benefits of pets for seniors, because we recognize that some seniors are interested in an alternative to man’s best friend.

Picking a Pet Based on Your Personality

Not every pet is perfect for every person, and vice versa. While a dog might provide more opportunities for social interaction than other pet options, some seniors just aren’t that into dogs. And that’s okay. The best companion pet for you, is the one that fits you personality best, so let’s see what kind of pet person you are.

Are you a bird person?

Seniors who love birds are often easy going. They tend to have strong personalities and enjoy the company of lots of people. They can also be a bit more expressive than other pet owners. In fact, some might even say they flutter from activity to activity.

Top 3 Best Bird Breeds for Seniors

Canaries: These sweet, colorful little birds are known for their soft songs that bring feelings of calm and serenity to all who listen. They’re small, easy to care for and don’t require a lot of attention — perfect for senior apartments.

Zebra Finches: These birds are very social, so it’s best to keep three or four. They communicate with sweet, quiet vocalizations. Although they don’t require much attention, you would do best to provide them with a large flight cage to allow them to flit about.

Parakeets: Most everyone will recognize the bright colorings of the parakeet. These little birds are very vocal and have loads of personality. They love to play with their human friends, so only choose these birds if you have time to spend with them.

Are cats more your speed?

Cat people are typically the creative type and are often introverts by nature. Their friends would say they’re emotionally in tune to others and are great listeners. And, like they’re feline friends, they may enjoy breaking some rules now and then.

Top 3 Best Cat Breeds for Seniors

Birman: This cat breed is affectionate, gentle and intelligent. They’re also very playful, but not over the top (they’re not a dog, after all). They do enjoy the companionship of their humans and usually form a close bond with one person.

Ragdoll: If you’re looking for a laid back kitty, look no further. Ragdoll cats are loving and calm. In fact, you might find them following you around your home ready to get into anything you do.

British Shorthair: These cats are known as the teddy bear of the cat family. They’re a good-natured breed that tends to be playful as kittens but then mellows as they age (we can relate).

Could your best friend be a dog?

A dog person is usually pretty agreeable and playful. They’re extroverts who are always fun to be around. They love excitement. In fact, they’re always on the look out for for a good adventure.

Top 3 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

Bichon Frise: These cuddly, fluffy little dogs are loving and gentle. They generally only grow to about ten pounds, so they’re a good fit for senior apartments. They’re easy to handle, simple to train and make great companions.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Another small, affectionate option, the Cavalier generally weighs 11 to 18 pounds. They’re easily trained and are generally happiest when they’re snuggling with their owners.

French Bulldog: If you’re looking for a slightly larger but still manageable mutt, check out the French Bulldog. These cuties average 19 to 28 pounds, but they are still one of the best dogs for seniors because of their cheerful, energetic nature.

If you’re thinking about making a move to a senior living community, LCS provides a number of pet friendly senior living opportunities in your area.