Many shelters currently have or are in the process of developing programs in which older citizens can adopt senior dogs. Many older citizens live alone and feel very lonely. Senior dogs for senior citizens make a lot of sense. Senior dogs are very difficult to place because people usually want younger dogs and puppies when adopting. These programs are mutually beneficial for both the dogs and the people.
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation, which was started in the 1970s, is a program that helps to fund programs like this at various shelters. The age for older citizens to qualify varies depending upon the shelter, some start at age 60. The age for the pet also varies as some start at age 7.
The companionship and love provided by a pet has been proved to be very beneficial for people. Especially for a senior living alone, having a pet for them to care for can give them a sense of purpose and reduce loneliness. It also has been shown to heave physical benefits such as decreased blood pressure and cholesterol. It can also get older citizens outside more to walk their pets, which is very beneficial for them.
Pets for the Elderly also helps with financial support for veterinary services, retention assistance, food shortage support, and other services for adopters age 60 or over at select shelters.
Senior Dogs Don’t do Well in Shelters
For any animal when they suddenly find themselves in a shelter after living with a loving family for several years this can be a shock and cause them a lot of stress. This is especially difficult for older animals that may have some physical difficulties. The sooner that senior pets can get adopted or fostered so they are in a home again, the better it is for them.
Senior dogs are usually already housebroken and have had some training. They are also much calmer and require less exercise than a puppy or a young dog. This is what makes this program so mutually beneficial for the senior pets and the older citizens.
Many of the shelters either completely waive the adoption fee or off it at a highly discounted rate.
Benefits of Adopting a Senior Pet
It is mutually beneficial for older citizens to adopt a senior pet. Many older citizens never got another dog or cat after their last pet has passed away.
My mother was an example of this. She had a wonderful Whippet that she loved very much, but because she was in her 80s, she thought it wouldn’t be fair to adopt a dog at her age. My mother lived alone and she was still very healthy and even worked part-time, so she would have been an ideal candidate for adoption of a senior pet. She ended up living until she was 95 so she would have most likely outlived her senior dog.
Senior pets are the most difficult to find homes for as most people want to get a dog as young as possible either a puppy or 1 or 3 years old. Not many people are looking for dogs of 7 or 8 years of age. However, for older citizens these senior dogs are probably the best choice for them.
Dogs at age 7 or older are much calmer, they move slower and the majority of them are already housebroken. They are most likely already leash trained and, as they move slower, it would be much safer for an older citizen to walk a calm older dog that to have to leash-train a young strong dog.
Benefits for the Senior Citizen
Here are some of the many benefits for older citizens when they adopt a pet:
- Having a pet has been shown can help improve our physical and mental health. By adopting and sharing your life with a pet, your stress level can be lowered, also you may suffer less illness.
- Many older citizens living alone experience depression. Adopting a dog or cat has been shown to decrease depression.
- Adopting a pet can help older citizens to get over the loss of a loved one.
- Senior pets prefer a less chaotic and more peaceful environment. Most older citizens live a quiet, less-chaotic lifestyle compared to families with kids.
- Senior pets are low maintenance
Benefits for the Senior Pet
Here are some of the benefits for the senior pets:
- This could save the life of a senior pet
- Provides a loving home for a senior pet to live out the rest her life in a home with a loving owner to take care of her
- Most likely, a senior pet will not outlive their owner
Pets Give Seniors Some Meaning in Their Lives
The addition of a pet to an older citizen living alone can give their lives meaning. Caring for another living creature lets them know they are needed. This pet is completely dependent on them for all their needs.
Dogs especially are well known for their unconditional love. This can be a wonderful change for a senior that has been living alone, feeling lonely and like nobody cares about them. A pet can dramatically change this with their unconditional love. This unconditional love can really change a senior’s state of mind as they now feel loved and are less likely to be depressed.
Also, having a dog gives the senior a reason to get up and get out to walk their dog. Which is great for both the dog and the senior. Walking a dog everyday can help older citizens with mobility and improve cardiac function. Walking is also good for the dog and provides her with the exercise she requires. Daily walks also increase the bond between human and canine.
Increased Opportunities for Social Interaction
Having a dog can also increase your opportunities to meet other people. When walking your dog, or visiting a dog park, you will interact with people you probably never would have gotten to know before you had the dog.
You now have an interest in common with many people. This can lead to much more social interaction and possibly activities such as going to lunch or walking your dog with other people and their dogs.
If you are an older citizen or know of a senior that you believe could benefit from a program such as this, please share this information with that person or persons. Many shelters have programs like this so be sure to look in your local area for a participating shelter.
You could be changing your life or the lives of those close to you.