Barbara Fradkin – Special to FLORIDA TODAY

Reader question:  My husband died recently and I’m feeling lonely. My kids want me to get a pet, but I’m hesitating. What should I do?  

Answer:  I am sorry for the loss you just suffered.

You are not alone: One in three seniors reports feeling lonely — a very real part of the aging process.

As we lose our spouses, friends and relatives, our usual social interaction is diminished.

Chronic loneliness is not healthy. It can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, depression and early death.

The pandemic has made this all worse. Thank goodness the vaccine is on the way!

While there are many ways to combat loneliness, your kids have a point: a pet can help.

Speaking from experience, dogs add a sense of purpose. They force me to go outside for walks. They bring me toys to play with. They cuddle, talk back and even encourage me to share my sandwich.

Pets wheedle their way into our hearts and provide the unconditional love we all crave.

Eighty-eight percent of people aged 50-80 said their pets helped them enjoy life; 86% felt more loved; and 79% reported lower stress levels.

So, listen to your children and try out a pet. Whether it is a cat or dog, lizard or hamster, pets are scientifically proven to be great for people.

Check with your local shelters and adopt, or foster a pet and see how that goes.

In short, a pet will  help you maintain a happy, balanced life.

Maybe I’ll see you out there when I walk my dogs!


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at

Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the Director for One Senior Place, Viera.