What’s it like for you when you come home to an empty house? Some people love it, some people immediately turn on the television or some music to “keep me company.” I suppose that’s changing as we text and email more and more, but it doesn’t matter. When you’re used to living with people an empty house can seem just too quiet, especially if you’re an older person with limited mobility.
In her later years my mother wanted to get a kitten. She was barely taking care of herself, didn’t want to be bothered with much activity, but wanted a warm snuggly animal to sit with her. I’d often loan her one or more of my cats so she had no need for a kitten (who was going to take it when she couldn’t keep it?). Her face lit up whenever Fiona came over.
But what if a cat or dog isn’t practical? What if someone loses his or her spouse of 70+ years and is suddenly very much alone? I recently met a woman who had come up with a solution. She had grown up with all manner of pets and knew her mother liked most animals so after much thought she took her mother to the pet store. Did they get a puppy or a kitten? No! After all, Mom is 90 and not likely to live long enough to care for a cat or dog through its lifespan. Did you know that lab rats are clean, smart, and have an average lifespan of 3 years? I’m not sure they’d be the right pet for me, but clearly they gave this woman much pleasure and they provided a living presence in her home.
What ideas do you have for easing loneliness so that we can age with pleasure?