Should You Adopt a Companion Animal?

Older Dog Sitting On Chair

Pet adoption is at an all-time high in the United States. It makes sense: People are spending more time at home, often without the company of others. After a few weeks, a furry friend starts to sound like a great investment. Seniors living increasingly isolated lives might also be looking for a solution, wondering: Should I get a companion animal for myself? 

Adopting a pet as a senior comes with a few additional challenges. There are factors to consider that younger people might not need to think through. From personal mobility to future travel, older adults should review the following list of considerations before heading to the adoption center. We promise you’ll be happier for it. The more information you have before adopting an animal, the better you can prepare for the ups and downs of pet ownership.

Before diving into this list, though, remember that a companion pet is not the same as a service animal. If you’re trying to decide whether you need a service animal or a medical alert system, check out our previous blog post.

Physical Mobility

Animals often necessitate healthy physical mobility. Even cats, who are fairly independent, will require their owners to stoop down and scoop the litter box. Before adopting an animal, assess your physical abilities and limitations. Can you bring a dog out for a walk at least three times each day? Can you bend down to pick up your animal if you notice them limping? Are you comfortable driving your pet to the animal hospital for a check-up? These routine actions will require a certain level of physical fitness, so reflect on your own abilities before driving to the pound. 

Financial Fitness

Sharing A High Five With A Cat

Animals can be expensive. On average, most people should count on spending around $200 to adopt the animal, and food and supplies will typically cost between $500 and $1,000 per year. Plus, animal health emergencies are difficult to predict, and they can be pricey. If you want to adopt a pet, take a hard look at your finances. Can you afford a $1,000 emergency procedure? This aspect of pet ownership can be especially tough for older adults living on fixed incomes, so consider sitting down with a budget specialist before making a decision. 

Future Plans

Adopting a pet during a pandemic is a little different from adopting one outside a pandemic. You’re probably at home and spending more time alone than usual. Are you prepared to continue caring for an animal even after pandemic restrictions lift? If you like to travel, are you comfortable bringing your dog on an airplane? If you decide to pick up a part-time job, will you be able to return home to walk your pet? Consider these potential changes before falling in love with a furry companion. 

Your Energy Level

Animals can take a lot of physical and emotional energy. From house training and playing to daily walks and bathroom breaks, an animal can drastically change your schedule. If you’re worried about an animal’s energy but are set on getting a companion animal, consider adopting a senior pet. These older animals often make great companions for older adults; they’re already housebroken, they’re trained to use a leash, and they are often far calmer than younger animals. 

Consider a Companion Animal’s Limits

Senior Dogs Napping On Bed

Some folks might be interested in pet adoption for the safety benefits of owning an animal. Pets can alert people to dangers in the home, and there are countless stories of pets running for help when their owners have accidents. Unfortunately, these stories are often more fiction than fact. The best way to protect yourself during an accident is to invest in a medical alert system. These devices allow older adults to access emergency help with the push of a button. Medical alert systems won’t provide the companionship of an animal, but they can make you feel more comfortable in your home. The medical alert systems from Alert1 are priced lower than standard Life Alert costs, too, which means you might have some extra space in your budget to add a furry friend to your family.