Category Archives: Pets and the Elderly

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.

Pet Ownership May Increase Age-In-Place Possibilities

Just as nursing homes and other senior care facilities have seen the therapeutic benefits of bringing dogs into visit patients, so too can a pet enhance the quality of life for your aging parents. Animals provide benefits to individuals that medical and other therapies can compare with; the cases of blood pressure being lowered simply by petting an animal have long been documented. Regardless of the reasons, having a pet in the household may help to keep your elderly family members active and healthy.

 

Here are five ways that having a companion animal in the house may help your aging relatives age-in-place:

 

  1. Keeping active. When you own an animal – whether a cat, dog, bird or other – you have to feed it, care for it and walk it. The idea of having to take care of another living being can give your aging relatives a reason to get out of bed in the morning. While you certainly don’t want to have a rambunctious puppy underfoot, a senior dog could fit the bill.
  2. Man (or woman’s) best friend. A pet can provide companionship and this is especially helpful for a widow or widower. A pet can help combat loneliness which can lead to emotional and physical declines in health.
  3. Keeping up with routines. With a pet you need to feed it, walk it and give it attention and the routines are a great way to keep the mind of an aging person engaged. Because everyone understands that pets need certain attention, it can also motivate the elderly to properly take care of themselves as well.  A pet can add meaning to an elderly person’s life.
  4. Having little or no contact with friends or family or social interaction through church groups or other organizations can lead to emotional issues and even dementia. If you have an aging parent that has been withdrawing from social interaction, a pet may naturally draw them out and get them more involved with family.
  5. A reason to live. Having a pet to care for may actually extend your aging parents life. When you consider the reasons above, pet ownership provides the elderly with a reason to get out of bed in the morning and the sheer fact of having to be active to take care of the pet could lead to a longer, healthier life for your aging relative.

 

You certainly don’t want to rush out and adopt a pet for your parents unless you’ve talked with them first. Also, you will need to make arrangements for the pet in the event your parents can no longer care for it. It’s unfair to the pet to be given up for adoption simply because your parents can no longer care for it; a contingency plan needs to be put into place as to which family member will take the pet into his home when your parents can’t care for it. When you add a pet and a home medical alert device to your parent’s home, you are adding layers of protection, companionship and peace-of-mind that will allow them to age safely in place.

 

Pet Ownership May Increase Age-In-Place Possibilities

Just as nursing homes and other senior care facilities have seen the therapeutic benefits of bringing dogs into visit patients, so too can a pet enhance the quality of life for your aging parents. Animals provide benefits to individuals that medical and other therapies can compare with; the cases of blood pressure being lowered simply by petting an animal have long been documented. Regardless of the reasons, having a pet in the household may help to keep your elderly family members active and healthy.

 

Here are five ways that having a companion animal in the house may help your aging relatives age-in-place:

 

  1. Keeping active. When you own an animal – whether a cat, dog, bird or other – you have to feed it, care for it and walk it. The idea of having to take care of another living being can give your aging relatives a reason to get out of bed in the morning. While you certainly don’t want to have a rambunctious puppy underfoot, a senior dog could fit the bill.
  2. Man (or woman’s) best friend. A pet can provide companionship and this is especially helpful for a widow or widower. A pet can help combat loneliness which can lead to emotional and physical declines in health.
  3. Keeping up with routines. With a pet you need to feed it, walk it and give it attention and the routines are a great way to keep the mind of an aging person engaged. Because everyone understands that pets need certain attention, it can also motivate the elderly to properly take care of themselves as well.  A pet can add meaning to an elderly person’s life.
  4. Having little or no contact with friends or family or social interaction through church groups or other organizations can lead to emotional issues and even dementia. If you have an aging parent that has been withdrawing from social interaction, a pet may naturally draw them out and get them more involved with family.
  5. A reason to live. Having a pet to care for may actually extend your aging parents life. When you consider the reasons above, pet ownership provides the elderly with a reason to get out of bed in the morning and the sheer fact of having to be active to take care of the pet could lead to a longer, healthier life for your aging relative.

 

You certainly don’t want to rush out and adopt a pet for your parents unless you’ve talked with them first. Also, you will need to make arrangements for the pet in the event your parents can no longer care for it. It’s unfair to the pet to be given up for adoption simply because your parents can no longer care for it; a contingency plan needs to be put into place as to which family member will take the pet into his home when your parents can’t care for it. When you add a pet and a home medical alert device to your parent’s home, you are adding layers of protection, companionship and peace-of-mind that will allow them to age safely in place.