You’ve finally reached the time in your life that seemed like it would never come. Your golden years are upon you, and your days are yours to live as you please!
So now that it’s here, you have a lot of decisions to make as to how to fill your seemingly endless free time. Maybe a pet would help?
It might seem like getting an animal is an extra responsibility when you just want to relax. But, experts suggest that a pet is exactly what you need when you’re retired.
Adopting certain animals, like dogs, cats, and even birds, carries so many benefits. If you’re on the fence about whether you should get a pet now that you’re retired, check out these life-changing advantages that come with it.
1. You’ll Be More Active
As we get older, it becomes harder to keep our activity levels up. This is especially true once retirement hits and our routines are disrupted.
When your time is all yours, it’s tempting to be lazier than you usually are. The day stretches before you empty, and it’s tempting to binge-watch TV or sleep the time away. These activities can be dangerous to your health, though, if you aren’t moving enough.
Depending on the animal you choose to bring into your home, a pet can keep you active. Think about what you want to get from adopting a pet. Every animal requires a different level of care. At a minimum, all pets have to be fed and cleaned up after.
If you want something that will fill the lonely days and help you be more active, a dog would be a good choice. You won’t find a more loyal companion than “man’s best friend.”
Like a toddler, dogs must be played with and walked if you really want them happy. But when they’re happy, you can’t help but feel that way, too!
2. You Can Get More Social
Retirement doesn’t always mean you lose your social connections. It does make it more difficult to connect with the outside world, though.
Adopting a pet allows you to join groups with other pet owners. Online and in-person organizations give you the opportunity to interact with others who might be able to teach you how to care for your pet. If something goes wrong, they can give you advice.
That sense of socialization is there, even on social media pages. You can share cute pictures of your pet and comment on others’. It’s a camaraderie you wouldn’t have without a pet.
Dog-owner groups are, of course, the most common organizations. You can find online communities for dogs in general or the specific breed you have. There are also groups for owners of cats, fish, lizards, birds, snakes, and any pet you might prefer!
In-person socialization increases with taking your dog out in public. When your pup is trained, you can take him or her on walks or to a park.
This will introduce you to a world of potential friends and activities. Even if someone isn’t a “people person,” who can resist a cute furry face?
3. You’ll Feel Valued
Pets rely on you for their survival. It’s a responsibility that can’t be taken lightly, but when you connect with your pet, it’s worth every bit of trouble.
Dogs, cats, and some birds are particularly affectionate. Every time you walk in the door, they’re there waiting for you.
For dogs and those extra smart birds, five minutes with you outside seems like a lifetime to them. Cats, by nature, tend to be more standoffish, but they show their appreciation on their own terms.
Your pets love you unconditionally, and you feel valued. That care that you give them fills a spot in your heart that might have otherwise been lonely.
4. They Increase Your Communication
As a retiree, unless you fill your days purposefully, there might be times the house seems empty. The phone doesn’t always ring; the TV or stereo are the only sounds.
This can sound like a dream come true at first. No responsibilities! No demands for your time and energy!
Over time, though, the silence becomes deafening. If it goes on too long, it will make you ill. Without talking, even to yourself or your pet, your health can decline.
If you have a pet to talk to, that missing link of communication is filled. As you get to know your new friend, you’ll learn how they “talk” to you, too.
5. You Don’t Feel So Alone
Sometimes, our retirement years are full and active. For other people, though, they can be lonely. Your children and grandchildren have their own lives, too.
Researchers are learning more about the difference between loneliness and social isolation. We all feel lonely at times, but we can get through it. When we’re isolated, though, it’s another story.
Social isolation is a danger to seniors in retirement. It happens when they lose the choice of whether they can be around others or not.
Maybe their license and car are taken away because of declining health, or maybe they live far away from their friends and family and rarely get visitors.
Whatever the reason for the isolation may be, the facts are that it can be deadly. A pet reduces the dangers that come with this season of life.
Whether you’re feeling lonely or it’s stretching into isolation, having an animal to take care of is a healthy alternative to being alone.
Now that you’re retired, your choices are finally all yours, and that includes the decision to get a pet or not.
With these science-backed reasons, you might decide that the advantages of being a pet owner far outweigh any arguments against it!
Leon Grundstein has more than 28 years of experience in real estate development, with over two decades of experience in the retirement industry. He founded Tacoma Point Ruston with a game-changing business model to promote a healthy and robust retirement lifestyle for older adults.