Socialization is fun, and many reports state that remaining active and social as older adults can keep us healthy and help us to live longer. But what happens when it’s no longer just as simple as hopping in the car and going?

Isolation is a genuine and even dangerous reality to the aging community. Without proactive solutions, many people could easily find themselves in this position. Adopting a pet can help you give back to your community and has the added benefits of keeping you company!

Are there benefits to getting a pet after retirement?

 
 

For those of us who want to gallivant around the world, adopting a dog or cat may not be the best option – unless you have someone who can watch them while you are away.

However, for those of us who don’t travel as often or who have a family that’s too far away, adopting a pet can have several benefits to our health and well-being. Moreover, it can provide us with a great excuse to go out and help others!

I don’t think it matters what age you are, being around a friendly pet animal warms the hearts of all of us. Whether you are a self-proclaimed “dog person,” “cat person,” or something in between, there is undoubtedly a friendly pet out there waiting for you.

Volunteering

Finding methods to give back to the community is a wonderful way we can spend our time in retirement. Adopting a pet to take to the local senior center, or even to an older neighbor you know could use some company, is a loving way you can give back to your community.

Adopting a Senior Pet

Senior pets are the least likely to be taken and will often spend their later years alone in shelters. It’s easy to understand why.

We quickly bond and become close to our pets, and the thought of losing them so soon after we’ve adopted them is hard to cope. However, we have an incredible opportunity to make their last few years the best of their lives, feeling loved and part of our home.

Senior dogs also have a gentle and calm temperament that makes them great therapy dogs when visiting your local senior center.

Caregiving

Humans are natural caregivers, and when we no longer have our children to care for at home, many of us continue to look for other ways to provide care. Caregiving brings us fulfillment and makes us feel good about our contribution to society. What better way to find purpose and to give care than to adopt a pet that needs your love?

A Good Excuse to Exercise

Adopting a dog is a great excuse and way to ensure you are remaining active. It’s too easy to let a few days go by without getting any exercise, but with a new pup, you’ll have a great reason to get outside for a walk. Nowadays, it’s not all that uncommon to take a cat out for a walk either.

Enhance Communication and Companionship for Empty Nesters

With children out of the house, many empty nesters report the need to get to know their partner again. Adopting a pet together is a great way to bridge this communication through coordination of care. It also creates a fun way to get outside and go for walks with one another.

The Adoption Process

The adoption process can be quite lengthy, so be prepared to fill out paperwork and even come into the shelter for an interview. Animal shelters want to make sure that the adoption is the right fit on both sides, so not to risk you having to return the pet to the shelter.

The result, however, is worth the wait, and the new addition to your family and life opens many new opportunities that you may not have experienced otherwise.

The benefits are endless, and who can deny the affection of an animal that is so willing to receive your love and care? Of course, a pet is not the best option for everyone, and the decision to adopt (not shop!) shouldn’t be made without a bit of deliberation.

A great way to start is by visiting your local animal shelter and asking them some general questions you may have about the process. They can even help you determine the best type of breed and temperament of the pet that would help the transition into your home and family a bit easier.

Have you considered adopting a pet? Do you think it would be a welcomed responsibility in retirement? Or are there reasons why you wouldn’t want to adopt a pet? How do you plan on staying socially active in retirement? Please join the conversation below!

Molly WisniewskiMolly Wisniewski has cared for older adults living with dementia for over ten years. She is a recent graduate of the Erickson School, UMBC where she received her M.A. in the Management of Aging Services. Her blog Upside to Aging is dedicated to sharing an alternative and more positive side to aging.

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