When you speak to a dog or cat and it cocks its head sideways and looks at you as if you are speaking a foreign language, does it understand what you are saying?  If the word “treat”, “cookie” or “let’s go for a walk” gets an excited response from your pet, then you know that you are being understood.


Medical research has confirmed that having pets can be very therapeutic and that they can be wonderful companions for older adults who are living alone.   Independent adults who may be missing visits from their adult children and grandchildren are prime candidates for a companion pet.  Aging parents often have a strong need to feel useful and nurturing after years of raising a family.  A companion pet can satisfy this need while delivering a bond of unconditional love that cannot be achieved in any other way.


Geriatric professionals sometimes recommend that seniors who have become isolated in their own homes and have withdrawn from normal activities can benefit from the companionship of a furry friend.  Taking care of a faithful and loyal pet can actually extend the life of aging adults.  Having a dog or cat to talk to or take on a walk is a great way to engage seniors and help them get adequate exercise.   There is no bond stronger than that of a pet for its master.  Pets do not care what kind of a day you are having—they are always happy to see you, and they enjoy getting and giving undivided attention.  It is hard to be depressed or lonely when your precious pet idolizes you.


Occasionally, friends or family members think they are doing a good thing by getting their aging parent or friend a young puppy or kitten to keep them company if they live alone.  Unfortunately, good intentions can become disappointment if the recipient is unable to provide the level of exercise and attention that a young animal requires.   Depending on the living arrangements of the older adult, a young pet who is not house-trained is not only an inconvenient cleaning nightmare, but it can also be a health hazard.


There are so many wonderful orphaned pets who need a loving home, it doesn’t make sense to buy a pet from a pet store.  A rescued dog or cat will show you a measure of love and gratitude that is like nothing else you have ever experienced.    So, find a furry friend at one of your local humane society shelters, and make a difference in the life of a deserving pet and your loved one too.

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