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.