Pets have a host of benefits for their elderly owners. Becoming a pet parent can contribute to a healthier outlook on life, promote a feeling of safety, and improve health, including lowering stress and blood pressure, but caring for one can be overwhelming for some.
Studies have also shown that pets can extend a person’s life by up to seven years. Those who have pets report higher levels of satisfaction than those who do not have animal companions. Having a pet can also reduce stress of loneliness and inspire a person to get more exercise.
The many benefits of pets explain why pets are often used as therapy dogs or companion dogs. Pets that pass certain tests and receive certification are used on all sorts of settings. Pets may visit children’s hospitals or cancer wards to provide the patients with a moment of happiness and comfort. Certified therapy dogs also visit nursing homes, to bring joy and interaction to senior citizens.
The documented health benefits of time spent with a therapy dog are remarkable, and it is clear that even a brief period spent with a calm and loving dog can make a substantial impact.
Happy and healthy life with a pet
Because of the positive health effects, many senior citizens can benefit from the companionship of an animal. Those senior citizens living in their own homes, either alone or with spouses or children, can have a far greater equality of life if they have a companion. A dog can provide the impetus necessary to get a senior citizen out of the house and into the community. A dog can encourage senior citizen to exercise and stay active. A dog can help a senior citizen living alone feel less lonely or isolated. Finally, a dog can provide protection, especially for elderly women living alone.
However, a senior citizen must take into account the playfulness of a puppy, and the type of breed that they are interested in having. Puppies and very high energy breeds such as beagles require a great deal of walking and exercise in order to avoid boredom. If they are not kept active for a good portion of the day, it led to destructive behavior like digging or chewing on furniture or shoes.
Therefore, a senior citizen who is not very active will want to avoid breeds that require walks that exceed the boundaries of the human’s comfort level.
Older dogs, or rescue dogs, may be the ideal choice for senior citizens looking for a companion. Those older dogs are generally past the puppy state and are content to have a human to sit with them on the couch, pet them, scratch their bellies, and otherwise share a calm and comfortable life. The relationship between a rescue dog and senior citizen can have a very positive impact both for the dog and owner alike.
Senior citizens also want to be aware that they must make arrangement of accommodations for their pets, in case the owner becomes unable to care for the pet for whatever reason. Often, family members or close relative are willing to assist in the care of a dog or cat, should the senior citizen become unable to care for the pet themselves. This option should be discussed prior to the situation arising, as the responsibility for the dog or cat is clearly assigned should its owner become unable to care for it.
SEVEN TIPS TO HELP SENIOR CITIZEN LIVE COMFORTABLE WITH A PET
- Pets are a tremendous responsibility. If a senior is unsure about adoption, look into fostering an animal instead. A short-term commitment is a good trail run to see if pet ownership is the right decision.
- Before bringing an animal into someone’s environment, make sure it has been to the vet and received its shots. An unhealthy pet can carry germs and infection into a senior’s home.
- The love and comfort a pet provides is priceless, but they are still a financial commitment. Before a senior adopts, make sure they are in a position to pay for the food, toys, regular vet visits, and possible health issues and procedures.
- Pets are physical, as senior citizen considering adoptions should be healthy and energetic enough to handle an animal. If a senior suffers from mobility issues, then a dog is not the best choice, since they require daily walks and playtime. Consider adopting a cat instead; they can be indoor pets and require much less attention and maintenance.
- Seniors who have previously owned pets tend to be better equipped to adopt. If a senior does not have past experience with animals, suggest spending time with a friend’s pet. This will provide a better idea of whether pet ownership is a good fit and which animal would be the best choice.
- Pets are family members, so it’s important to work them into your will. Make sure seniors have a plan in place to ensure their pets will be well cared for if they should pass away.
- Look into organization that help match seniors with older animals. Adopting a puppy or kitten may be tempting, but they require much more work and physical care. Older animals are likely to be calm and well trained, and generally make better companions for elderly citizens.
(c) Judy Helm Wright, Pet Grief Coach
Want more information? Contact us today for a consultation and strategy call. The strategy call is free, but the coach is available in packages for every pocket book and pet lover.
PS: Thanks for loving pets. If you have a friend who is losing their beloved pet, have them give us a call. You will be glad you did.