How a Pet Can Change a Senior’s Life
Seniors who enjoy the company of animals can benefit greatly from having a pet to care for and cuddle. There are a number of ways in which a pet can change a senior’s life.
Pets reduce depression and loneliness with their constant and loyal companionship. As seniors begin to go out less and spend more time at home, they can feel cut off from the world. A caregiver will help ease this loneliness, but a pet adds another element.
Pets can also foster optimism and a focus on the here and now – have you ever met a dog who worried about the future? The future can be scary for the elderly as they see their health deteriorating, but a pet’s worry-free attitude will rub off on them and help them concentrate on the simple joys of life.
Another benefit of pet ownership is that animals can bring up long-buried memories in people with memory loss. Interactions with pets tend to help access memories from long ago and move the focus away from physical and mental problems and on to caring for the animal.
Is a Pet Right for Your Loved One?
Before bringing home a pet, consider whether this is the right decision. To determine whether a pet is right for your loved one, consider these questions:
Has your loved one owned a pet before? An experienced pet owner will find it easier to care for a pet as a senior citizen.
Can you afford the expense? Pet ownership can be a financial burden, including food and vet bills.
Is your loved one resistant to change? If so, a pet may not be the best choice.
Who will care for the pet if your loved one can’t continue to care for it? Will a family member take over or can the pet be returned to the shelter?
Guidelines for Choosing a Pet for a Senior
Once you’ve decided that a pet will make a positive change in your loved one’s life, the next step is choosing an appropriate pet. Here are some points to consider when choosing a pet for a senior:
An older pet is already trained and calmer and will be easier for a senior to handle. Shelters often have older pets who need a good home and are of a calm disposition.
On the other hand, a pet who is old and infirm will require too much maintenance and is not right for an elderly person.
Cat or dog? Dogs require more active care, so if the new pet owner is physically disabled, a cat will be a better choice.
Pets can carry diseases so it’s important to check that any pet brought into the house is healthy and won’t pass on infections to humans.
It’s better to get only one pet. Two animals are likely to bond with each other instead of with their owner.
National Dog Day is being celebrated this Friday and many shelters are opening their doors to prospective dog owners. Take advantage of this opportunity to adopt a dog in need of a good home!