Some seniors experience loneliness and depression especially after losing a loved one, dealing with a partner who is very ill or even making the move to a group facility. In study after study, owning a pet—or even being given the opportunity to interact with animals such as dogs and cats—has proven to be one of the most beneficial things a senior adult can do.
A pet’s unconditional love, with no sense of the future but of the here and now, can instantly lower stress and anxiety levels… and even blood pressure. In a 1980 landmark research project that studied heart disease patients after their hospital discharge, “the presence of a pet was the strongest predictor of survival.”
Senior pet owners feel less burdened with the presence of a pet, and are encouraged to be more active. Pets motivate them to get on with their daily lives, meet others and stay active (such as when walking a dog). Seniors with pets tend to complain less about their own health, and see that other things in life are important, such as companionship. Their care-taking role as a pet owner provides a true sense of purpose.
Owning a pet may also pose some risks, so it may be wise to consider the following:
- Pets require energy and time. Does your senior have the stamina for feedings, exercise, grooming and playtime? Younger pets may require training and more attention. Cats and fish require less care than dogs.
- Pets can be expensive. The food, supplies and vet bills can be significant as a pet ages.
- Seniors can trip over pets. This can be serious for a person with limited vision or disabilities such as being in a wheelchair. A small pet can run in front of a person without notice.
- Many group living facilities do not allow pets, or charge a higher price for those with pets.
- Allergies and other uncomfortable conditions brought on by pets (fur, fleas, etc.) can be hard on seniors.
In the Fort Worth area, there are many pets just waiting to be adopted into a good home. If the senior in your life has the time, energy and budget to welcome a pet, they will be rewarded with a companion who brings constant joy and some very healthful benefits. For additional advice, contact the Pets for the Elderly Foundation at www.petsfortheelderly.org.
Through Home Care Assistance of Fort Worth, you’ll find caregivers who can help your senior decide if a pet is right for them. Our in-home care solutions include helping with many tasks, from medical assistance and cooking to making sure pets are looked after.