Pets have been known to bring the zest back into life for seniors, with multiple benefits to help them fully engage and enjoy life. However, before any decisions are made about having a pet it’s helpful to look at both the benefits and liabilities that seniors with pets encounter. The companionship of a pet can do wonders for loneliness and are often a ready source for joy, laughter and entertainment. A dog’s playful personality can bring a smile, and can also be a reliable source for unconditional love and loyal support.
Often people will do for their pets what they are not motivated to do for themselves, for instance, taking their dog on a walk for exercise benefits both the pet and the owner. Even the regular routine that is established with pets including their feeding schedule, taking them outside, and exercise can benefit seniors to help keep them busy and maintain a daily schedule. The very fact that a pet relies on its owner for its well-being can increase the owner’s sense of self-esteem and purpose. Beyond the emotional benefits, pets affect our physiology as well and some studies indicate that pets may help seniors live longer and healthier lives, be more active and better cope with stress. One particular study found that seniors with pets had significantly lower blood pressure than those without pets.
While a senior having a pet has plenty of benefits, it’s also important to look at the liabilities and risks when considering bringing a new pet home. To ensure that the pet does not become a fall risk, it’s helpful to have the pet wear a bell on its collar since cats and smaller dogs can get underfoot. In the event that there is a medical emergency and the owner cannot be home with the pet, it’s important to have a plan in place for the pet to be cared for and looked after. If finances are limited then making sure enough money is budgeted for the pet’s food and routine veterinarian care is helpful in the planning process, and pet insurance is an option to plan for the unexpected veterinarian bills. While there are definitely considerations to make if you are a senior or know a senior that would like to own a pet, there are plenty of benefits as well for a pet to bring more joy and companionship into a senior’s life.
If you have more questions about services available for seniors with pets and how Care from the Heart might help your or your loved one maximize the benefits while reducing the liabilities of having pets, contact us and we’d be glad to help. Care from the Heart has more than 27 years of helping seniors maintain their independence at home.