The lives of senior adults are full of many opportunities to try new experiences, join new groups, travel and do whatever they want to do. The need for companionship during this stage of life is still strong and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can help manage loneliness and depression associated with being alone. In fact, studies have shown that having a beloved pet can increase fitness, lower stress and bring happiness. Before you adopt a new pet, do some research to ensure that the one you select is a right fit for you. Find out how active the pet needs to be, how large it will get and do you have enough time and energy to take care of the pet.
Since seniors are more susceptible to infections, below are a few tips from the CDC to help seniors stay healthy while enjoying their pets.
Wash Your Hands: After touching or playing with your pet, feeding them or cleaning up after them, it is vital to wash your hands. This helps reduce the risk of getting sick from germs your pet may carry.
Keep Your Pet Healthy: Regular veterinary care is important to keep your pet and yourself healthy. This also includes keeping your pet on a healthy diet, fresh water, clean bedding, and enough exercise. Don’t forget to keep up with vaccines and all methods of parasite controls.
Practice Good Pet Hygiene: Keeping your hands washed is only part of the hygiene regimen. Don’t clean pet supplies in the kitchen sink or where you prepare your food, and it’s best practice to keep pets out of these areas, because their germs can spread to surfaces. Also, use a plastic bag to clean up after your pet in public places and try to clean out a cat’s litter box once a day. As always, wash your hands right afterwards.
Although it can be a lot of work to take care of a pet, the benefits these furry companions bring far outweighs them all. If you have hesitations about taking care of a pet, reach out to family members for help or advice, or contact a pet sitter or walker.