woman with one of the best companion pets for seniors, a small dog

5 Best Companion Pets for Seniors in a Retirement Community

Pets are great companions for anyone, and most people will own at least one in their lifetime. Many senior living communities allow, and even encourage, pet ownership and its many benefits. We love our pets at Freedom Village, and residents get their furry friends involved in community events, take them on walks, and more!

The benefits of pets for seniors

Owning a pet can provide a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. For those who are up for the responsibility, owning a pet can be incredibly rewarding. Here are just a few of the many reasons to get a furry (or not) friend:

  • Companionship: Pets can provide seniors with unconditional love and companionship, which can help combat loneliness and depression. Seniors who live alone or who have lost a spouse may find that owning a pet can help fill the void and provide a sense of purpose.
  • Reduced Stress: Studies have shown that spending time with pets can lower stress levels and reduce anxiety. Pets offer a calming presence and provide a sense of comfort during stressful times.
  • Increased Physical Activity: Owning a pet, particularly a dog, can encourage seniors to get up and move. Walking a dog can provide a great form of exercise, which is important for maintaining physical health and mobility.
  • Improved Mental Health: In addition to reducing stress, pets can also improve overall mental health. Owning a pet can provide a sense of purpose and can help seniors feel more connected to the world around them.
  • Lower Blood Pressure: Studies have shown that owning a pet can lead to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. This is likely due to the fact that pets offer a calming presence and can help reduce stress levels.
  • Socialization: Owning a pet can also provide opportunities for socialization. Seniors who own pets may meet other pet owners while out for walks or at the community dog park, which can help combat feelings of isolation.

couple with a small dog in their senior living apartment

The best companion pets for seniors

Ultimately, the best pet for a senior will depend on YOU! Your personal lifestyle and preferences will help guide decision-making when considering getting a pet. It’s important to choose a pet that you’re able to care for and that will provide companionship and joy. Here are a few pets that are well suited for older adults:

1. Dogs

Dogs can be great companions for seniors, particularly those who want to walk and exercise with their pet. Smaller dog breeds, such as Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas, can be easier to manage for those who may have mobility issues or a smaller home. Dogs can join in on the fun more often, making them a perfect addition to an active senior living lifestyle by dressing up for events and taking part in activities with other residents. 

2. Cats

Cats can also make great companions for older adults. They’re relatively low-maintenance and don’t require as much exercise as dogs. Some breeds, such as the Ragdoll cat or the Persian, are known for being particularly affectionate and docile. They’d love to join you for your coffee in the morning or curl up with a good book.

3. Birds

Birds can provide companionship and entertainment for seniors. They don’t require as much physical care as other pets and can be a good choice for people who live in apartments or other smaller living spaces.

4. Fish and turtles

Fish and turtles are also low-maintenance pets that can provide a calming presence for seniors. They’re relatively easy to care for and can be a good choice for seniors who may not be able to provide as much physical care for a pet – or those who enjoy setting up beautiful aquariums!

5. Small mammals

Small mammals, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, or rabbits, can be good choices for seniors who are looking for a pet that’s a little more interactive than a fish or bird but are nearly as easy to care for.

freedom village resident with her dog outside on a walk

How to choose the right pet for you 

Choosing the right pet is an important decision that should be made carefully. Here are a few tips to consider when selecting a pet:

  • Lifestyle: Seniors should consider their lifestyle and choose a pet that fits well with their daily routine. For example, a high-energy dog may not be the best fit for someone who has limited mobility or who lives in a small apartment.
  • Financial Considerations: It’s important to consider the financial cost of owning a pet. Be prepared to cover the cost of food, veterinary care, and other expenses associated with each kind of pet ownership.
  • Living Situation: Seniors should also consider their living situation when choosing a pet. For example, some senior living communities have restrictions on pets, and some pets may not be well suited for living in a small space. However, if there’s an extra bedroom, it could be the perfect spot for a rabbit playpen!
  • Personal Preferences: Finally, seniors should choose a pet that they enjoy and that brings them joy. Some older adults may prefer the companionship of a dog or cat, while others may prefer the low-maintenance nature of a bird or fish.

It’s also a good idea for seniors to consider adopting an older pet, as they may be better suited for a quieter lifestyle and require less training. 

Enjoy a fulfilling retirement at Freedom Village 

When you choose a senior living community that handles all of life’s annoyances like chores, home maintenance, cooking, and cleaning, you have more time to enjoy your favorite things, like your beloved pet. Learn more about our Active Life Plan Community and how it can improve your retirement today.