Older adults, particularly those who live alone, often suffer from feelings of loneliness and isolation. Mobility problems and depression can make it difficult to leave home. Adopting a dog that compliments your lifestyle can help boost mood, increase exercise, and facilitate social opportunities. Matthew Bussard, a financial services broker for Medicare users in Rhode Island, is passionate about improving the lives of the elderly. Here are his top reasons for why seniors should consider adopting a dog, and advice for how to get started.
Why Dogs Are So Great for Seniors?
Try not to smile at a wagging tail attached to a goofy grin. The bond that pet owners have with their dogs is incredibly fulfilling and has even been found to reduce depression and anxiety. Research from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging found that senior pet owners believe their pets help them enjoy life (88%), make them feel loved (86%), and reduce stress (79%).
When you love someone, you want to take care of them. Dogs vary in their exercise needs based on their breed, age, and other factors, but they all need to be outside several times a day to “do their business”. Having a dog is a great motivator to make sure you get outside regularly. Dogs also love outings like hiking, swimming, and agility training, which are fun ways to add some diversity to your regular exercise routine.
Socialization is important for dogs, and dog owners know that socializing your dog is a great way for owners to socialize with each other as well! Socialization teaches puppies how to read social cues (which helps prevent fear and aggression from manifesting later in life), and lets dogs talk to others who speak their language, keeping them happy and boosting their overall mental health. Great options for socializing dogs include scheduling playdates with neighbors, visiting a dog park, or enrolling in dog training or agility classes.
How to Find the Right Dog for You?
Do your research to find dog breeds that might work best for your lifestyle. Different breeds require varying amounts of exercise, mental stimulation, and grooming, and have typical personality traits that may appeal to you more than others.
Once you have a good idea of the types of breeds that would work best for your lifestyle, visit animal shelters and rescue organizations. They will usually be able to tell you about the dog’s background and individual behavior characteristics to help you decide if the dog is right for you.
If you have your heart set on a specific breed, you can search for adoptable dogs by breed on Petfinder, or find breed-specific rescues in your area by Googling “[breed] rescue in [your area].” You can often get on a waitlist for breed-specific rescues—particularly useful if you want a puppy!
Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and not all living situations and lifestyles are able to accommodate one. If you can’t have a dog for some reason, volunteering with animal shelters and rescue organizations is a great way to still get the benefits of a companion animal, while also giving back to the community!
About Matthew Bussard
Matthew Bussard is a financial services broker offering support to Medicare users in Rhode Island. He is passionate about creating a difference in his clients’ lives by helping them enroll in Medicare with professionalism and care. Mr. Bussard volunteers with Medicare recipients at clinics, providing efficient, continual guidance to clients every step of the way. Matthew also participates in various charitable activities, including The Hunger Project, the MDRT Foundation, local clean-ups, and little league coaching. He donates to local charities and makes a difference in his community in every way possible.