Pets and the elderly
There are varying opinions on whether an elderly person should own pets. Today we look at some of the advantages of owning a pet in your senior years.
Advantages for the elderly person owning a pet
Like most kinds of pets, dogs and cats are companion animals. They assist to reduce stress, curb boredom and feelings of loneliness, and even have a positive impact on depression. Many of these positive effects on mood have been observed in working adults who participate in “bring your dog to the office” programs. Increased productivity, improved morale, better communication and happier pets were also observed!
Advantage for animals adopted by elderly persons
The pets of elderly persons are loved and cared for all day, every day. Senior citizens are retired and have a lot of time to spend with their animals. Elderly persons are also more relaxed and tend to enjoy the simple things in life. Lapdogs, older or lower energy dogs and cats find perfect companions in older adults.
When should the elderly not own a pet of their own
Senior citizens who regularly experience poor health should consider their circumstances before adopting a pet. Although low maintenance animals may remain an option, the welfare of the animal should also be taken into consideration. Elderly persons who are admitted to hospital regularly must ensure that a trusted family member or friend is available to look after the pet during these difficult times, and often without notice. Additionally, owning a pet can be expensive. Anyone who owns a pet should make sure they have enough funds available for daily care. This includes, grooming (mobile pet groomers are perfect for seniors who want their pet to look their best without having to drive to a salon), vet visits and medications.
What about puppies?
Puppies have a lot of energy and need to be potty trained. If an elderly person is physically up for the challenge, then this should not be a problem. However, if regular cleaning, training and playing is not possible, then a puppy is not recommended. Remember, even low-energy lapdogs start out as playful puppies!
How can the elderly benefit from animal companionship when they can’t own a pet
Many senior citizens will not be able to own a pet due to health, financial or living space concerns. If you know of an elderly person who would like to interact with a pet, here are a few things you can do:
1. Arrange a get-together with friends, their pets, and senior citizens. Many retirement homes will welcome a weekly visit if it is well organised.
2. If an elderly person is able to take care of a pet for a few hours, arrange for your pet to visit now and then while you go shopping. Many elderly persons owned their own pets and will know how to look after one.
3. Supervised visits are also a great option for senior citizens who may not be able to be alone with a pet.
Always ensure that the pet you are taking along is calm, will not bite, does not mind being stroked and will not accidently cause an elderly person to fall. To protect the senior citizen’s health, ensure that the pet they are being introduced to is clean, up to date with vaccinations and is dewormed.
The term “senior citizen” is not a description of ability. Healthy elderly adults should not be discouraged from owning a pet if they are physically, mentally and financially able to do so.