Older Adults and Pets
Pets can be good for older adults. Pets can keep them company and help them feel less depressed or nervous. They can also help an older adult stay active. But, there are important things to think about if an older adult has a pet, or wants to get a pet.
Is the older adult able to care for a pet?
Pet care takes time and money. The pet needs food and fresh water every day. It may also need exercise, like a walk. It may need vaccines and other health care supplies. It is important to pick a pet that fits the person's abilities and living space. For example, a large dog or a puppy with a lot of energy may not be a good pet for someone who lives in a small apartment, uses a walker, or is at risk for falls. Some pets are easier to care for than others. If a cat or dog is not a good fit, think about a bird, fish or another pet.
Good questions to ask about getting or keeping a pet.
It is also important to think about the safety of the older adult and the pet. The table below lists some ways to keep older adults and their pets safe.
Safety for older adults and pets
Finding a new home for a pet
If an older adult is no longer able to provide good care for a pet, think about asking others to help. For example, a neighbor may be willing to walk a dog or clean a litter box. Sometimes this may help the older adult be able to keep the pet.
In some cases, the older adult may need to find the pet a new home. Giving up a pet may be hard. Try asking friends and family, neighborhood or church groups, or using social media to find someone who will adopt the pet. Check to see if the new owner would allow the older adult to visit the pet. Several animal breeds also have special rescue groups that have foster families who can take the pet until it is adopted. If no one can be found to adopt the pet, they can be taken to local humane societies, or animal shelters.
Written By: Morgen Hartford, MSW, Alzheimer's Association"Desert Southwest Chapter
Care Partner Information ~ Tips for Providing Older Adult Care
Edited by an interprofessional team from the University of Arizona Center on Aging
This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U1QHP28721, Arizona Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.