Best Dog Breeds for Senior Citizens

 

Getting a dog as a pet is always a consideration which calls for some long-range thinking.  This is particularly true once we have lived long enough to be considered a senior, in our 60s, 70s, 80s or beyond.  Many of us are living alone, and having a four-legged companion sounds like a good idea in terms of alleviating a periodic sense of loneliness and isolation.  Even if we live with someone, pets can provide the same uplifting of our spirits.  But those little critters need a fair amount of care from us.  And they create issues in our homes which we would do well to not think about.  Remember that cats can be left alone for a day or two, with food and water.  Not so with dogs.  But cats are hard to take for a walk…

Well, Dear Reader, below I’ve provided you with my thoughts about a number of dog breeds for you to start with.  There are, to be sure, many dozens more to choose from, but I’ve stuck with the ones best known to most of us.  It is always worthy to consider having a dog in our lives as we get older, whether we live alone or with a spouse, partner or family.  Choose carefully, after giving due thought to the responsibilities which come with having a dog.  And should Fido or Fifi or Rex or King or Charlie the Chihuahua come into your life, live well and enjoy the company.

10. Beagle

Another cute small dog, but they can be very active and curious little critters.  They oftentimes do not get along well with other house pets, so ask your cat before getting one of these.  Beagles come from a breed of hunting dogs, so they require daily exercise and room to explore, either in your home or in your back yard.

9. Cairn Terrier

Really smart and loveable breed of small dog.  They have long hair which requires daily brushing, lest it get matted and the dog be mistaken for a Rastafarian.  Cairn Terriers enjoy long walks but one must careful since they tend to want to chase small animals.  Even a small dog, lunging after a squirrel to chase, can pull an unsteady senior over.  They are really cute, though, and if you want to engage in meeting romance out in public while on a walk, this might be a good choice.

8. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terriers, also known as Westies, are small terriers with a big personality.  Super friendly by nature, these cute dogs are outstanding with other dogs and kids.  They are loyal companions that you can leave around the grandkids without ever having to worry about either.

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7. Pug

These small dogs have faces which bring-to-mind Winston Churchill, at least in my mind.  I can almost hear them bark with a British accent.  They are short-haired dogs, which makes it easy to keep them groomed.  They do not call for a whole lot of exercise, though a Pug which does not get out and about enough will tend to get very overweight.  They are friendly dogs, and charming critters for people interact with in public.

6. Corgi

Very popular these days, and very expensive to purchase.  This breed can be a great house or apartment pet, and are really good with children.  Corgis need a lot of exercise, though, and tend to bark a lot when left alone.  Without daily exercise, they put on weight really fast.  They also shed their hair at least twice a month, so be prepared to do the cleaning in your home.

5. Golden Retriever

Probably the most popular breed of dog, and for good reason.  They are friendly, really smart, and as loyal as the day is long.  Golden Retrievers are large dogs which require a lot of exercise.  If you are looking to keep motivated in your own exercise, going for a healthy jaunt once or twice a day, this would be a good match for you.  They also shed quite a bit, so be ready to do some extra house cleaning.

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4. Labrador Retriever

Black Labs, Golden Labs, White Labs – all are great dogs for any age of owner.  For seniors, they can be one of the best in that they are loyal, friendly and eager to provide company.  This is another breed of dog which is useful if a person is single, and has in mind to meet someone new while going out for a walk.  Labs are congenial and easy for a stranger to pet while you are engaged in conversation out on a walk.  These dogs do shed quite a bit, and require a lot of exercise.  At home, however, they are quite content to lie around in the same room as their owner or family.  They are big dogs, so take this under advisement if the owner is frail and unsteady on her or his feet, particularly while walking the pooch outside.

3. Greyhound

Greyhounds are best known as racing dogs.  They are tall and often quite heavy, up to 70 or 80 pounds.  And they are amazingly gentle and affectionate.  Many people have greyhounds which are retired from racing, and the new owners are surprised at how lazy, or couch-potatoish the dogs can be.  If you are looking at a large dog, this is a good one to consider.

2. Bloodhound

These are very large dogs, a little over two feet tall and weighing up to 105 pounds or more.  Though these guys look sleepy and lazy, they require a good amount of exercise, and long walks on a sturdy leash are a must.  Walking with them off-leash is not advisable.  Remember that these are hunting dogs and once their nose picks up a scent, they can be off for the hunt.  They also drool quite a bit, so keep towels handy in the home.  Bloodhounds do well in a large fenced yard, but they like to dig so the fence must be a secure one.  Their faces are distinctive to everyone, with their sad eyes and baggy skin.  Striking up a conversation with someone new is easy to do once they get a look at your pet’s face.

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1. Papillon

Really cute and really small.  They have oversized ears, which grow long poofy hair, as does their neck and shoulders.  If you are a single man looking to meet a charming lady, or some variation on the theme of romance and companionship, this dog is one to consider.

Considerations to Ponder

Those are just some basic considerations to ponder, before looking into bringing Fido or Fifi or Rex or King or Charlie the Chihuahua into our home and our lives.  The upside of having a pet around often far outweighs the added work that they require.

 

Upsides to Having a Dog at Home

I’ve listed some things to be mindful about while we contemplate getting a dog.  No doubt there are other notions I’ve not listed, but at least you have a place to start.

 

Written by Aaron Berlin

Ergonomics for Working Seniors

 

When we get older and spend any considerable amount of time at a desk, particularly working on a computer, it is important to consider the ergonomics of how we and our equipment are positioned.  Ergonomics is a science, or study, of designing equipment and its usage which provides comfort and efficiency.  This is particularly important with repetitive motion activities, such as using the computer which I am working on right now.  Posture and positioning of equipment helps us to avoid the aches and pains of working on computers.  The same holds true if we are drafting or writing or painting or sculpting, or anything which can be done at a desk.  As we get older we have enough aches and pains which are natural in the aging process.  We do not need to sit at a desk, like a raptor in Jurassic Park, adding to the stiffness in our bodies.  Release the raptor inside of you, and let it go chase scientists in the park…

 

Standing Desk

There is an alternative to sitting at our desks for hours at a stretch.  We could, of course, get up and take the pooch for a walk if we work from home.  Or, we can look into various desk designs currently available, which allow us to stand while working on the computer or doing whatever else we may be doing at our desk.  Desks that can be raised and lowered give us the opportunity to sit for a while, ergonomically of course, and then stand for a while.

After a given period of time, when our bodies need a different position, we can raise the desk and stand while we work.  These height-adjustable desks can be either manually or electrically raised and lowered.  Your budget will probably dictate which design, manual or electric, is feasible for you.  Standing while working at a desk allows much better blood flow which, of course, helps our brain functionality.  It also helps fluids in our bodies to keep moving as they are designed to move.

How often have any of us sat for so long that our backsides get a bit numb?  Productivity is reportedly increased, as well as mood, energy level and comfort.  Our bodies are not designed to be sedentary for long periods of time, particularly in a sitting position.  Even while sleeping, most of us move around, perhaps chasing something or another in our dreams…perhaps even looking for our youthful idealism.  As we get older, it is really important to listen to what our bodies are telling us.  If your butt is numb from sitting……listen to it and get off of it.

 

Positioning of Computer Monitor

As you are reading this, what angle are your eyes directed at?  If you are looking down, at perhaps as much as a 45 degree angle, bring your attention to how your neck feels.  Is it curved forward and down?  Enough time sitting with our necks curved forward and down, and we will some day (God forbid) be walking along unable to look at anything other than the tops of our feet.

Our computer monitors should be raised to a height such that we are looking straight ahead at it.  Some reports suggest that the monitor be tilted back 20 degrees.  That would be up to the individual and our level of visual acuity.  We do not have to spend a bunch of dough to raise the height of our computer screen.  If your monitor, as you are reading this, is too low and your neck is at an awkward angle, just go grab a box or some books, and put them under the monitor.  In order to raise my monitor’s height, I use a large plastic container which holds flower seeds for my garden.  I’m a bachelor, and doing things this way does not bother me.  I think you will find adjusting the height of your monitor to be an immediate benefit to how your neck and shoulders feel.

 

Ergonomic Chair

As you are, presumably, sitting and reading this article, how is your posture?  Is your chair so low that your knees are above your waistline?  Is it set so high that only your toes are touching the ground?  Are you slouching forward, or backward, with your lower back in a position which is uncomfortable?  These are but a few of the physical positions which leave us feeling tight in the shoulders and lower back, aching in the hips, stressed in the neck and prone to grumpiness in the attitude.

Yeah, you might think, but I’ve gotten used to it.  Well, Dear Reader, consider that a couple of simple adjustments might have your body feeling better now.  And these adjustments will have you feeling better during the times when you are not even at your desk.

An ergonomically correct chair allows us to keep our knees at a 50 degree angle, and our feet flat on the floor.  If the height of our chair is such that our arms are not at 50 degree angles to our desk, that is another reason to make an adjustment.  It will keep our wrists and forearms from getting uncomfortable.  If need be, and if your budget allows, take some measurements of desk height, and go shopping for a new chair.  We can also make simple modifications without spending a penny.  I took a firm throw pillow off my couch and put it under my behind.  Worked for me, allowing my knees and arms to be at 50 degrees while I type.

 

Ergonomic Mouse

Prolonged use of a computer mouse can, for some people, cause pain and discomfort in the wrist, forearm and fingers.  There are several different computer mouse designs available.  If you are having issues with your mouse-hand, you may want to try a different design.  I would first suggest that you examine the ergonomics of the height of your desk, your chair and your posture.

Vertical Mouse - the user’s hand is in sort of a handshake position, and the control buttons or switches are on the sides.  This one takes some getting used to, and it eliminates most of the twisting of the wrist, which is associated with a traditional mouse.

Trackball Mouse – this one is controlled via a ball on top of the device.  The ball is rolled with a finger or the palm of the hand.  Some commands are difficult to do with precision, such as dragging and dropping, and cutting and pasting.  Those can be learned, however, and if carpal tunnel issues are present, a trackball or roller mouse is a good one to consider.

Pen Mouse – this works like a regular mouse, but it is made to be held like a large pen.  Little to no wrist movement is required for its use.

 

Tennis Ball Exercises When Standing or Sitting

How the heck does a tennis ball come into play while we are working at our desks?  I’m glad you may have asked this question.  Taking off our shoes and rolling a tennis ball under our feet is a great way to keep our energy level up, our muscles relaxed and our feet happy.  Happy feet make happy bodies, since feet carry us through the day.

While it may be socially challenging to do in an office where other people are working, it can be quietly done.  You may want to make certain that your socks do not have holes in them.  Use the tennis ball as a massage tool, slowly but firmly working the muscles and tendons which keep our feet functioning.  Even our heels have muscle in them and they appreciate the attention.

Under the arches and all the way to the outsides of the feet, press down on the tennis ball, slowly but firmly.  If you feel an “ouch” or sort of an electric shock, you have found an area which is in need of massage.  Work the balls of your feet and, while doing so, try to pick up the ball with your toes.  This flexes all sorts of small bones and muscles.  Your feet will thank you!

 

Conclusion

Life goes on, within and without us, as the old song sang.  And as life goes on, it is natural to develop less flexibility and more aches and pains.  It is natural, but it is not necessary to add aggravation to the matter.  Our Mothers were correct in telling us to “Sit up straight!  Use good posture!” when we were kids.  Well, Dear Reader, we are not kids any more, and Mom’s wisdom still holds true.  Try some of the suggestions I’ve made, and be aware of your body as you work.  If you find yourself back in old habits, hunched over in Raptor Mode, just move around a bit and tell that beast once again to go chase Scientists in the Park.  The raptor will be well-fed and your body will be happier when you shut down your work and head outside to play.

 

Written by Aaron Berlin

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My Story

Several years ago, my wife and I were attending a wedding in South Florida for a dear friend of ours who we have known for many years. Like us, he is about 60 years old and is gearing up for retirement. After the ceremony, as we were sitting on the beach, a strange feeling came over me, one of confusion and unease. A question popped into my head. If the sun were to set on my life, as it was over the glistening waters of the Gulf of Mexico, would I reflect back with fullfillment or regret? I was at a loss, unable to truthfully answer the answer. It was in that very moment I knew a change was required!

The next morning, I began to write a list of all of the things I longed to do but never took the first step towards. Some of the things I could do start doing that very day, while other would have to wait until I finished my career. I was overwieght but I always dreamed of being in shape. Why did that have to wait? It didn't. As a boy, I always loved playing saxaphone, but my brass had collected dust over the years, lost away in the shadows of the attic. I decided to book a sax lessons for the week I returned home. I always wanted to see a football game in every SEC stadium. That one would have to wait since I wasn't going to be able to visit all the SEC schools until I retired, but I could visit some sonner than later, so I bought tickets to see Bryant-Denny Stadium and Tiger Stadium in the autumn.

I immediately felt better!  Why had I waited so long to do the thing I loved?

Speed up a year later. I had already written so many things off my bucket list. As I dived deeper into my passions, new ideas came to mind, and my list grew. But still, there was something missing, a void deep inside somewhere. That's what led me to Active Aging!

 

Our Mission

I realized it wasn't enough to only pursue my own dreams. Life without service, without helping others, is a life unfulfilled. So that's how I came up with Active Aging.

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Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

Dogs make for a wonderful companion. Check out Active Aging's list of best dogs breeds for seniors...

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