The joy of having a pet does not change as we age. The type of pet we adopt does and should change, based on the our living arrangements and evolving health conditions.

The benefits of pet ownership by senior citizens are well documented, and it’s no wonder seniors are a growing segment of those adopting pets. We all know that having and loving pets:

  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces cardiovascular disease and feelings of stress
  • lowers cholesterol levels
  • increases activity during the day.

The satisfaction of having a constant companion that is present when you wake up or happy when you come home can continue through our lifetime. Loneliness and depression are buffered and decreased and a sense of purpose is maintained. Senior citizens who have pets are more likely to exercise without giving it a second thought.

Seniors and pets make a great combination, but pet adoption brings responsibilities along with the joys. There are factors to consider when adopting a pet for a older friend or relative.

  • Never surprise anyone with a pet. Discuss pet adoption and ownership with the owner-to-be first.
  • Let the new owner choose his or her own pet with you.
  • Consider the person’s lifestyle. Does he or she like to walk? If not, a dog is not the right pet.
  • Consider an older or mature pet. Mature pets tends to be calmer and their personalities more apparent. An adoption counselor at a local shelter can help select the best-suited pet.
  • Consider the person’s health and strength. A larger dog requires more physical strength and agility than a lap dog.
  • What would happen if the owner becomes ill? Have someone prepared to step in and take care of the pet.

Finances are always an important factor. Can the person afford a pet?

Adoption fees at rescue organizations such as ARNO cover first-year shots, microchip and spaying or neutering. Right now, while funds are available, Purina is offering to pay the full ARNO adoption fee for approved applicants. Details available at http://www.purina.com/petsfor55plus.

Upcoming events

SATURDAY: Kids 5-10 can get cozy with kittens and puppies while watching G-rated critter movies at Critter Cinema at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. $25 per child. Pre-registration required, call (504) 368.5191, ext. 207, email hollie@la-spca.org or visit www.la-spca.org/crittercinema.

SATURDAY: Freret Street Art Market features adoptable dogs from ARNO along with food, music crafts and fine art, Freret Street at Napoleon Avenue uptown, noon to 5 p.m.

JUNE 8: Mid-City Neighborhood Pet Adoption, sponsored by LA/SPCA, will be held at Mid-City Vet Hospital, 3821 Orleans Ave., from noon to 3 p.m. June 8. Adoption counselors and adoptable pets will be on hand.

Charlotte Bass Lilly is CEO of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends on the generosity of people who have followed them since Katrina. Contact arno.advocate@gmail.com, http://www.animalrescueneworleans.org or (504)571.1900.