Category Archives: Elderly and pets

The Benefits Of Pets For Seniors

It’s no secret that pets can enhance our lives. Yes, they do require work and care and veterinarian visits, but the benefits they provide, including companionship, are beyond measure. For as much as we love our pets, did you know they can be helpful for people as they age? Your aging loved ones may benefit from pet ownership, as long as you’re aware of the care they will need – both your parents and the pets.Benefits of pets for seniors

When seniors adopt pets, measures must be put into place for the care of the pets when your aging loved ones can no longer properly take care of them. That is a conversation that needs to be held up front, before the pet comes into the home. You also need to determine what type of pet is best for your parents. Cats require less care than a dog, but a dog will help assure your parents are up and mobile. Taking the dog for a walk is an ideal way to stay agile and even involved in the community and that can stave off loneliness.

What are some other ways in which the seniors in your life can benefit from animal companionship? Here are a few:

  • Physical activity. As mentioned, owning a pet means they will be involved in regular physical activity. Dogs need to be walked. Cats need to be played with. Even fish and reptiles will require some level of interaction and activity.
  • Companionship benefits. Having a pet in the house will mean your loved one will never be alone. If you don’t live close by, it is important that they have a companion as depression can set in when loneliness sets in. The loss of a spouse and a dwindling circle of friends can lead to isolation and that can, in turn, lead to a whole host of health issues.
  • Physical health benefits. It’s been shown that the mere act of petting an animal can help lower blood pressure. It’s also been shown that caring for a pet can not only lower your blood pressure, but improve cholesterol levels and provide better heart health.
  • Weight loss. While having a pet may not lead to weight loss, it may help with weight control, especially if they have a dog. Dogs require physical activity and regular walks and that means your loved one will be physically active as well.
  • Physical connection. If your loved ones live alone they may be bereft of the physical connection of a hug or other human touch. Being able to wrap their arms around their pet can help alleviate that physical craving for human touch.

The positive impact that pets have on our lives cannot be denied, but they do need to be adopted with care with provisions made for their care when your aging loved ones can no longer take on the responsibility.

Add Quality of Life For The Elderly: Add A Pet To Their Household

Pet owners know that being a pet parent is not only a responsibility but is a great stress reliever  as well as a wonderful source of companionship. Thinking of your aging relative owning a pet may not, at first glance, seem like a good idea but it’s been proven that caring for a pet increases quality of life. It’s likely that your relatives are probably not suited for the rigors of raising a puppy, adopting an older dog from a shelter or dog rescue might be just what the doctor ordered.

Being faced with the empty nest or the loss of a spouse, may lead to seniors missing being able to nurture and care for something, and a pet just might fill that void. As senior citizens find their circle of friends growing smaller because of relocations, deaths or changes in interests or levels of activity, you may find them becoming disinterested and disengaged. Offering your aging parents a dog or cat on which they can dote and nurture might fill a void. Remaining active will allow the elderly to better face aging in place as will signing them up for a home medical alert system to keep them safe in the event of a trip or fall accident.

A dog in the house can provide a sense of security to the aging relative. You don’t have to adopt a large dog to feel a sense of security –- simply the idea of having a dog in the house that bark and sound an alert at either real or perceived threats. Studies do show that a home with a barking dog is less likely to be breached than one without.  In addition to having a pet in the house, equipping the home, and your relative, with a medical alert bracelet or pendant can add to peace of mind for the family.

Pets give their owners a reason to get up, get dressed and remain active. If your aging parent is living alone, he or she could easily become depressed and inactive if they feel they have no purpose. Pet ownership will you’re your elderly relatives active because they will feel compelled to take the dog outside to go to the bathroom and for brief walks around the yard. Keeping the dog groomed and fed are also activities that will keep your relatives engaged. You will need to match the activity level needed by the dog to the amount of activity your relative can feasibly undertake. Adopting an older dog who is likely less physically active than a puppy makes sense.

If the rigors of owning an older dog that needs little physical exercise seems too much for your aging relative, consider adopting a cat. Animal shelters are full of older cats looking for loving homes. Cats need as much nurturing as dogs but require less physical activity.

Simply having a dog or cat in the house can alleviate loneliness and boredom and provide your aging relative with a companion. Keep in mind, though that you will want to make arrangements for which family member will take on the responsibility of the pet once your aging parent is no longer able. Having a plan in mind for the pet’s care will put your parent’s mind at ease and will also make certain the pet doesn’t have to be surrendered.

Seniors that own pets are typically happier and life longer than seniors who don’t own pets and if your relatives are up to the task, perhaps owning a pet might be a great option for them to explore. Between having a pet to keep your aging relative active and having a home medical alert system offers peace of mind for the whole family.