As we age, we can feel lonely. A home is never lonely where a loving pet awaits. Pets can often provide needed companionship and support that seniors need. Plus, they can offer some amazing health benefits. But, as we age, it becomes more important to consider the types of pets we have and how we can take care of them. Here is our guide on how seniors benefit from pets, how to choose a pet, and take care of it as a senior.
Benefits of Pets for Seniors
In addition to companionship, pets give seniors a responsibility and a purpose. Simply having to give a cat some water or take a dog outside can fill a senior's life and help them feel useful. Pets make a home feel safer, providing seniors with a sense of security.
In addition, seniors who own pets often experience numerous health benefits, including the following:
- Boost immune system
- Help overcome depression, anxiety, or loneliness
- Lower blood pressure
- Help fighting allergens
- Decrease stress
- Increased physical activity
How To Choose a Pet
When choosing a pet, it is important to consider how much ability you have to take care of it. Some animals require additional attention, like puppies. However, other pets can be quite low-maintenance, like lizards. Here are a few questions to consider to help you decide on a pet:
Are there disabilities to consider?
Dogs are a wonderful at encouraging seniors to walk and increase their physical activity, but those with physical limitations often find a dog to demanding. For those with disabilities, cats generally need less care than dogs. You may also consider an indoor bird or smaller animal.
Will they benefit more from a therapy pet?
Seniors who are impaired may qualify for an assistance or therapy dog who has been specifically trained to help them function in their daily life.
How old is the pet?
A puppy or kitten has a tremendous amount of energy and require a large amount of care. Often, more care than a senior can provide. Also, consider that a young pet might outlive their owner. However, avoid choosing a pet that is too old as the pet itself may develop physical limitations or illness that requires extra care.
What is the animal's temperament?
Many people tend to think smaller dogs are better for seniors. However, many small dogs such as a Jack Russell terrier are extremely high energy and require a large commitment to be properly trained.
Are finances a concern?
Pet ownership is expensive. The costs of a food, medical care, toys, and grooming for a dog can reach over hundreds of dollars each year. If a pet becomes ill, that amount can skyrocket. If money is a concern, consider choosing a less expensive pet such as a fish.
With these questions in mind, you can determine if a pet is right for you or your loved one and you can select the right pet companion!
Tips for Seniors to Care for Pets
There are many ways to make caring for a pet easier for seniors! Here are a few tips:
- Look for automatic feeders and water dispensers. Automatic feeders and water dispensers are a great solution for senior pet owners. Sizes that are appropriate for all pet sizes are available. These gadgets can reduce the number of times you have to refill dishes.
- Find a vet that does house calls. There are veterinarians who make house calls. Do a little research on Google to see if there are any such vets in your area. Having a vet come to you is a lot easier than having to take your pet to them.
- Check to see if your area has a Meals on Wheels program that will also feed a pet, if necessary. And there are a few Protect Animal Life (PAL) Humane Society programs that work with Meals on Wheels to pay for grooming, dental care, temporary boarding, and fostering for senior's pets.
- Ask for help when you need it. Don't be embarrassed to reach out to neighbors and friends to give you a hand with walking or feeding your senior's pet. Many individuals enjoy taking care of pets and would be happy to help out.
- Hire someone to help. If you can't take your dog for a walk or clean your fish tank, hire someone to help. There are usually locals who you can hire to help you. Or you can consider a professional caregiver to come into your home. Either way, there are options available.
At Caring Senior Service, our expert staff is comprised of extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and trusted professionals who take pride in helping your loved one manage their daily activities. Contact your local Caring team today to learn more!