Most family caregivers have felt the twinge of guilt when leaving their aging loved one alone to go out. While elderly care assistants can help with care and companionship, they aren’t around all the time. Many family members wonder if getting a dog or cat for their elderly loved one would be a benefit or if it would become too much of a burden.
Benefits of Pets for Seniors
The results of research on the benefits of pets for the elderly is overwhelmingly positive. Dogs and cats definitely provide companionship and their devotion to their owners can help seniors feel needed and loved. Of course, caring for a dog or cat requires responsibility on the elderly owner’s part as well, and caregiving tasks can enrich their lives and fill their days. Seniors that are somewhat mobile can benefit from regularly walking a dog, and even the act of petting dogs and cats can relieve stress and anxiety.
Other benefits of getting a dog or cat for an elderly loved one include having an excuse to socialize with others, whether it’s on a walk in the park, at the vet’s office or at the groomers. Dog play dates are becoming more popular and it gives a chance for owners to enjoy each other’s company while their canines socialize as well. Studies show that dog-owners in particular are less at risk for heart attacks, high blood pressure and depression.
Serious Considerations Before Adopting a Pet
While it’s hard to argue with the benefits of a dog or cat, there are also a lot of considerations that need to be made before adopting. Pets require a lot of time and money, and sometimes seniors are simply not in a position to give those. Also, seniors may not be able to provide the kind of care and attention that a pet needs to be healthy and happy. For example, if an elderly person can’t provide the training a dog needs to be obedient and fulfilled, it can cause a lot of mischief, refuse to be socialized and even turn aggressive as it tries to figure out its new family.
Also, family caregivers need to determine how much of the pet care their elderly loved one can actually do. If they are bedridden but the dog needs walked frequently, that responsibility will eventually fall on the caregiver, family members or elderly care aides. It’s important to match the type of pet with the senior’s lifestyle and consider the real possibility that their current physical condition may not remain as it is for too many years. There should also be some idea of what will happen to the dog or cat should everyone get to a point where they cannot realistically take care of it.
As long as family caregivers and their elderly loved ones have carefully thought out the pros and cons of getting a pet, then the decision should be apparent. There’s no doubt that dogs and cats bring a certain joy to life, but especially to seniors that really do need that extra boost of love and devotion that pets bring.
If you or an aging loved one is considering elderly care in Mesa, AZ, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today: 480-377-6770.