Most independent living communities and some assisted living communities allow senior residents to have pets in their homes. As a part of the activities programming in senior living communities, often pet therapy and pet visits are on the schedule regularly. In working in senior living communities for the first ten years of my career, I got to witness the delight on the seniors’ faces when pets, especially dogs, would trot in the front door. Pets show us unconditional love, and remind of the pets we had and loved in our lives.
There is research backing up the fact that pets cause our blood pressure to decrease, reduces stress, helps with depression and anxiety. Not only do we crave companionship in our lives, but also having the responsibility of a pet gives the senior a sense of purpose. Making sure to choose the right breed is important, especially when it comes to energy level, whether the dog needs to be groomed on a regular basis, and since most senior living communities prefer dogs to be under 35 pounds, the size should also be taken into consideration. If the senior is a Snow Bird, this lifestyle must also be taken into consideration when choosing a dog. An easy going, flexible dog who can adapt to a new environment would be ideal in this situation. The age of the dog must also be taken into consideration. A dog is considered a senior at about seven years old.
If the senior enjoys the companionship of a dog, but is not able to care for the dog, there are many services available to the senior for a little extra help. Dog walkers can be hired to allow the dog several nice long walks each week. There are even services available to pick up after the dog in the backyard! For grooming, mobile dog groomers will come right to the seniors home and groom the dog right there. These services allow the dog to be well cared for, even when the senior is at the point where they could use a little support.
According to Thesprucepets.com, a Bichon Frise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, And French Bulldog are the top three breeds that are senior friendly. Using a breeder, or asking a shelter which breed of dog would be appropriate for the senior, is a good place to start. Shelters and rescues work hard match the right dog to the right human. Once the match is made, the bonding and love can commence! This is the perfect situation to say, “who rescued who?” The dog needs their human, and the human needs their best friend.