Seniors Today Newspaper
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Seniors and Pets

by Barry KuKes

In all, 55 percent of adults ages 50 to 80 have a pet, according to the new findings—and more than half of those have multiple pets. More than three-quarters of pet owners say their animals reduce their stress, and nearly as many say pets give them a sense of purpose.

The truth of the matter is that because of the bond that seniors tend to form with their pets, they will usually go out of their way to make sure that their pet is well looked after and that someone is willing to take care of the animal should they die before their animal companion. Very seldom will a senior surrender their pet unless it is because they can no longer care for the pet due to a health condition. Otherwise, seniors make great pet parents and spend lots of time with their pets.

Having a pet helps seniors get out of the house, exercise, meet new people, reduce stress, etc. For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity, and help them learn. Pets can be a great friend for a single senior who lives alone. I know many seniors who seldom talk to another human being but talk to their cat, dog, or even goldfish daily.

Cats make great companions for people of all ages and walks of life. Whether you are a busy single professional living alone in a small apartment in the city, a family with children living in a house in the suburbs, or a senior citizen living in a retirement home, a cat can be your ideal pet. Seniors especially love to have a cat as a pet companion. They are easy to care for and do not require constant attention like some dogs.

Many senior citizens like the idea of having a dog but know they physically can’t handle an active, large pet. This is why small dogs, such as a cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu, or Maltese, make great companions for seniors. However, my latest adopted rescue dog, Mini-Cooper, is a Cocker-King Charles mix, and at one year old, he is quite the handful. He gets the zoomies daily, so if you don’t get out of his way, he’ll run you over! Younger dogs have more energy and need to burn it off, so be aware of this before adopting a younger dog.

If you love animals but cannot have a pet due to landlord restrictions or other challenges, get your pet fix by volunteering at the local animal shelter. Halifax Humane Society is always looking for volunteers to help with dog walking, dog and cat enrichment, cat room associate, critter room volunteer, kids camp counselor, community outreach event volunteers, and more. If interested, visit www.halifax and click on the tab at the top that says, Get Involved. Complete the application form, and we will contact you about orientation classes. Or, if you prefer, you can complete the orientation and many other courses online. The links are located on the same page as referenced above.

We also have annual events where we need additional volunteers to help with event check-in, security, set up, silent auctions, tear down, accompanying guests to their assigned seats, and more. If you are only interested in volunteering once or twice a year, maybe ask about these special annual events.

If you have any questions, please contact me at barryk@halifaxhumanesociety. org and I will point you in the right direction. If you are considering getting a pet, please adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the Community Out- reach Director for the Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach. He can be reached at 386.274.4703, ext. 320, or at