Caring for and interacting with pets has health benefits for people of any age.
Having a pet can help older adults stay physically, mentally and socially active. Taking care of an animal can help people lower their stress or blood pressure, reduce feelings of loneliness or depression, keep a schedule, and pay more attention to their own needs.
However, owning a pet isn't for everyone. Some animals need lots of space, and all cost money, for their food, medical care, toys, grooming and other needs. Pets and their toys can also be fall risks.
Pet ownership works best for older adults when:
For example, birds or fish can be good pets for older adults with limited space, mobility or funds. Cats or hamsters can be good pets for older adults with more physical dexterity. Dogs can be good pets for older adults who are comfortable walking and have more space.