As we get older, many of us will likely find ourselves living alone. Having a pet is a great way to have constant company and studies have shown that animals can improve mental health.
With many older adults suffering from depression as a result of loneliness, this has never been more important.
However, some pets can take a lot of responsibility and time. Elderly people may be struggling with limited mobility, a lack of energy and other physical things that limit their ability to care for such a high maintenance animal.
But hope is not lost; there are plenty of low maintenance pets that are ideal for older owners.
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1. Some Dog Breeds
Owning a dog is thought to be one of the most demanding jobs when it comes to pets because these animals are so highly intelligent and require a lot of care. However, depending on the breed, the dog might not be quite as active and will be happier spending quiet time with an elderly owner.
What’s more, that intelligent nature can often be akin to having human company so is a great way to defeat loneliness.
Researching dog breeds is essential before committing to this type of pet as this will give you a good idea as to their temperament and activity level. It is thought that the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a good dog for the elderly as they do not require as much exercise and tend to be pretty placid.
They are not large dogs and in terms of grooming are very easy to maintain. However, if you prefer something a little more unique then a Cavapoo, which is a designer dog with one Cavalier parent and one poodle parent, has a very similar nature.
One of the most low maintenance pets out there is a fish. Of course, most people will not keep a single goldfish in a bowl these days as we are much more aware of how this is detrimental to the animals well being.
However, a small tank with a few select fish can be a good way for an older person to care for a pet in the simplest of ways. They also provide a great way to relax; sitting and watching fish is amazingly therapeutic.
Of course, you need to be mindful of the size tank you choose and the type of tank you want to run. A large marine aquarium is going to take considerably more work than a 50 litre tropical tank with around eight fish.
The good news is that there are a lot of species to choose from and while some cannot live together, there are pretty much endless combinations. Tanks will need to be cleaned periodically but the filtration system will do most of the hard work and other than that, it’s as simple as feeding your fish.
It might not be the ideal pet for some people, as it is not uncommon for humans to have a crippling fear of spiders. However, if you love our eight-legged friends then a tarantula is a surprisingly low maintenance animal.
One of the greatest things about them is that they are incredibly clean creatures and while their enclosure will need to be kept hygienic, this won’t take a huge amount of effort on your part. Moreover, tarantulas don’t need walks, are not needy and only need to be fed around twice a week.
The Chilean Rose tarantula is one of the most popular species to be kept as a pet as they tend to be much more placid and are not fussy about being held.
That being said, there are some species that can be very fast-moving and aggressive and these should be avoided by elderly owners.
4. Leopard Geckos
You could be forgiven for thinking that keeping a reptile would require a lot of work. While this is true for some reptiles, leopard geckos are often considered to be a starter pet because of how easy they are to take care of.
You will need to invest a little at the beginning to make sure that the leopard gecko has the correct setup but once your pet is settled in, there won’t be much for you to do.
Much like tarantulas, leopard geckos don’t mind being held and will interact with their owners. But unlike things like dogs and cats, do not require this attention so if you don’t feel like petting your pet, it won’t have any negative effect on its well-being.
There is the consideration of cleaning the enclosure and making sure that your leopard gecko is well fed but again, these are low maintenance jobs that can be done a couple of times a week.
5. British Short Hair Cat
Cats are one of the most independent animals that can be kept as a pet and as such, they might make great companions for those in their golden years. However, there are some breeds that are more suitable than others and the British short hair is a great example of this.
These cats are highly independent although they do like to interact with their owners. The British short hair is relatively low energy and will be more than happy to sit on the couch and have a cuddle while their owner watches TV or reads a books. That being said, they are likely to have short energy bursts but these don’t last long and tend to become fewer as the animal gets older.
The British short hair has a very thick coat so it will need to be brushed regularly. However, shedding is typically kept to a minimum and only really happens during the autumn and spring during moulting season.
Birds are an often overlooked animal when it comes to choosing a pet but they can be great for older people. They may require a little more maintenance than some of the other animals on this list but are still relatively easy to care for depending on the breed.
Things like parrots and macaws will need much more care and attention so these are not typically a good idea if you are looking for low maintenance.
However, birds such as canaries and budgies can be kept without a huge amount of interaction. They will need to have their cage cleaned at least once a week with daily spot cleaning but they aren’t hugely messy when compared to larger birds.
Birds are also wonderful pets for the elderly for the relaxing sounds that they make. Not only is this pleasant to listen to but it can also be great for relaxing.
Some caged animals can be difficult to take care of when you are older. Things like rabbits and guinea pigs may require far too much work for people with mobility issues.
However, a hamster cage is much smaller and while it will need weekly cleaning, this can be much more manageable for a senior.
Hamsters are pretty independent and while they are happy to interact with their owners, they are not needy and won’t suffer if you miss a day playing with them.
Provided that they are kept clean, hamsters will not produce a bad smell and they require only small meals each day so there is not a huge amount of food prep involved.
Hamsters also do not live for many years so if an older person does not want to commit to an animal that may outlive them, they are a great option.
Animals are a great way to have companionship and can give older adults something to do in the long days after retirement. However, there are some pets that are more suitable to senior citizens thanks to their low maintenance nature.
Whether you are looking for a quiet dog with a relaxed temperament or something a little more exotic like a spider, there are plenty of animals that are easy to take care of and incredibly rewarding.