Have you considered purchasing a pet for an elderly loved one, but thought it might be too much for him/her to handle? The truth is that this added responsibility may be just what he/she needs. Recent studies have shown that pet ownership offers a wide range of benefits for the elderly. Below is a look at some of the top ways your loved one could benefit from introducing a pet into his/her life.
Provide Companionship One of the most prevalent benefits of having pets is that they offer companionship. Common pets, such as dogs and cats, attach to people very quickly. This every day companionship can help to fight loneliness and depression, especially in elderly people. Pets can also boost a person’s overall mood and serve as a protector for seniors that live alone.
Minimize Stress There is no need to worry about overburdening your loved one by giving him/her a pet. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Pets can actually help to reduce stress. Just playing with or petting a dog or cat for several minutes can lower a person’s stress rate almost instantly. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of several serious health conditions, such as heart attacks, and it can help to lower a person’s blood pressure. The benefit of introducing a pet into the home will far outweigh any extra work it takes to care for the pet.
Gives Purpose Everyone needs to feel like he/she has a purpose in life. This is a serious issue for many seniors because they may not be physically able to complete many of the tasks they deem important. In addition, their children are all grown up and there is no need to care for them on a daily basis.
This can leave many seniors feeling like they are not needed. The introduction of a pet into their life can give them purpose again. Best of all, most pets only require minimal care.
Increase Activity Level If you are concerned that your loved one is not getting enough exercise or socializing enough, a pet may just do the trick. Caring for some types of pets, like a dog, requires consistent training, regular visits to the veterinarian, and daily walks. This will force your loved one to remain active on a daily basis in order to care for his/her pet properly. By taking the dog to the vets or the local dog park, he/she will also meet other people in the area and have the opportunity to socialize with other pet owners. It is important to talk to your elderly loved one before introducing a pet into his/her home.
This will ensure that you select a pet that he/she will enjoy. You also need to be sure that your loved one is physically capable of caring for the pet, or that you have people willing to step in and help. If you are not sure if a pet is right for your loved one, many assisted living facilities and senior service agencies offer pet therapy opportunities. This will give you the chance to see how your elderly loved one responds to being around a pet before you commit to purchasing one.