Tips for older people to cope with pet loss

As we age, we experience an increasing number of major life changes, including the loss of beloved friends, family members and pets.  The death of a pet can hit older people even harder than younger adults who may be able to draw comfort of a close family, or distract themselves with the routine of work.  For older adults who live alone, the pet was probably their sole companion and taking care of the animal provided them with a sense of purpose and self worth.

  • Try to find new meaning and joy in life | Caring for a pet previously occupied your time and boosted your morale and optimism.  Try to fill that time by volunteering, picking up a long neglected hobby, taking a class, helping friends care for their pets or even by getting another pet when the time feels right.
  • Stay connected with friends | Pets, dogs especially, can help older people meet new people or regularly connect with friends and neighbours while out on a walk or in the park. Having lost your pet, it is important that you do not now spend day after day alone. Try to spend time with a least one person every day.  Regular face-to-face contact can help you ward off low mood and stay positive. Call up an old friend or neighbour for a lunch date or join a club.
  • Boost your vitality with exercise | Pets help many older adults stay active and playful, which can boost your immune system and increase your energy. It is important to keep up your activity levels after the loss of your pet. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme and then find an activity that you enjoy. Exercising in a group – by playing a sport such as tennis or golf, or taking an exercise or swimming class – can also help you connect with others.