How to Choose a Pet for Your Elderly Parent

AllsWell Team

First published on March 2018, updated on May 12, 2021


  1. How pets help elderly people stay active, healthy, and safe
  2. Points to consider when choosing a pet for people living alone
  3. Our list of pets


Children become adults. Friends fade away with the passage of time. Across the globe, revolutions and calamities happen. Only your pet will continue to love you with all the devotion it is capable of.

Today, the AllsWell team decided to find the best pet for your elderly parent, and we’re going to suggest something much more interesting than just a parrot!

But first, let’s reveal…


How pets help elderly people stay active, healthy, and safe

It’s a fact that cats can heal a headache and even more dangerous diseases, but how else can the owner benefit from a fluffy (or not) bundle of joy?


1. Reduce stress levels

Pets can calm you down better than their human companions. Communication with animals is especially useful if it occurs through touching, which has a stress-reducing effect on the human body. Remember how you feel while cuddling an animal - you experience calmness and affection.


2. Decrease blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, and medical emergencies

Baker Medical Research Institute has found based on the observation of 5,741 people that blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels of pet owners were far lower than for those who lived alone.


3. Reduce depression and panic attacks

According to the research, from the journal Gerontology, the most important thing is caring for someone. During the experiment, elderly people were given a cage with crickets for eight weeks. The results clearly showed that these seniors became more calm and less depressed compared to another group without something to care for.


4. Increase social activity

A pet owner has to care for the animal by feeding, washing, and walking it (if needed). This can lead to new social interactions: with the pet store owner, veterinarians, or other people walking their own animals. So, your father or mother are guaranteed to make new friends!

And staying active translates into staying well, which is exactly our goal! 

A helpful reminder: Don’t forget to set your activity schedule in your parents’ AllsWell Alert profile, since their daily habits and activity periods are bound to change with the arrival of the new home member.


5. Decrease the feeling of loneliness

"Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pet's companionship, even when there were some downsides to owning an active pet," says Linda Anderson, who established Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis.


6. Become physically active

The NIH research proved that those seniors who own pets, especially dogs, are more mobile and are in better physical condition.


Points to consider when choosing a pet for people living alone


Personal preference

Some like fluffy pets, some like bald cats, others prefer dogs, and someone else will pick an iguana and be happy with it. That is why it’s critical to discuss this question with your senior parent rather than surprise them with the animal.


The physical condition of the future owner

Just imagine that you presented your 85-year-old mother with a young golden retriever who can’t sit still even a minute. It would be a disaster! Consider choosing a pet who matches your parent’s physical abilities. Even a goldfish can be an option!



Some animals need a lot of attention. Grooming, feeding, and medical care. These all can cost an arm and a leg. If you’re not going to sustain your parent financially, then it’s better to select something less extravagant.


Our list of pets

There are two ways to own a pet: traditional and extraordinary.


Ordinary approach

Cats. They are the most popular and most unpretentious friends of man. Cats are very convenient for older, lonely adults because they don’t need to be walked. It is believed that the best breeds for the senior are the Persian, Siamese, and Sphynx cats.

What greater gift than the love of a cat.” ― Charles Dickens

Dogs. They can become a perfect comrade at an advanced age. A four-legged friend reduces loneliness and maintains the health of an elderly person since he/she has to walk the dog twice a day. However, not every breed is a match for an elderly person. We suggest: Cocker Spaniel, Japanese Spaniel, Chihuahua, Boston Terrier, and Border Terrier.

The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.” — Johnny Depp

Rodents. These are fluffy antidepressants. Hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, or mice – choose any, except rabbits, who are rather fast, bite, and demand to be cleaned every 2-3 days, which can be quite a challenge for old people.

"I didn't know mice were so smart." — Daniel Keyes

Tortoise. It’s a perfect silent friend, who may relish eating a cabbage leaf out of your hand. There are various breeds, and none needs a lot of care from a senior. Moreover, they like to be stroked just like a cat.

Love makes even a turtle smile." ― Henrietta Newton Martin-Sr Legal Consultant & Author

Fish. Breeding and watching fish in an aquarium can bring great joy. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the presence of an aquarium in the house has other favorable properties. For example, the act of viewing fish (and this is proven by science) reduces blood pressure, insomnia and restores the nervous system.

I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” ― George W. Bush


Extraordinary approach

Mini pig. They have become extremely popular recently. George Clooney, Danielle Steel, and Mick Fleetwood are all celebrities who have a pet pig. A cute small piglet can quickly win your heart, having replaced conventional kitties and Chihuahuas. As for their care, it’s similar to small indoor dogs. You need to learn the ins and the outs of caring for the pig, but these details are doable even for an elderly person. The primary condition is to buy a mini pig only at a certified mini pig club, otherwise, you may get an ordinary pig palmed off as a mini.

I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Lizard. If you do not want to walk the dog in the morning or clean the cat's tray, and the noise from the guinea pig is too much for you, try to start with a lizard. It does not make loud noises and does not wake you up in the morning. It does not need a lot of room in your house. And it does not have hair, so it's almost the perfect pet. Moreover, your parent can get creative!


The AllsWell team hopes this article was really useful for you. Getting the best four-legged friend for your parent will definitely help with their - and your - peace of mind. You know what else will help? Get them an AllsWell Alert subscription: it uniquely combines the panic button functionality with inactivity monitoring so that in case of an emergency you will always be notified, even when the user is unable to press a button. Simple, effective, and just $9.99/month!

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