Benefits of pets to elderly love ones
By Connie De La Rosa
Sometimes, as seniors age, they become more withdrawn, losing the desire and ability to develop new relationships. Pets offer needed companionship, but they can increase the quantity and the quality of social interactions among their owners. Seniors who are pet owners, engage in more frequent conversations and focus on current interests and activities, which can bring unity because of other senior friends or neighbors who share common interest with their pets.
Pets can provide the emotional and physical benefits associated with pet therapy. Fish, birds, and other animals can reduce loneliness and bring healthy behaviors as well. It can bring motivation because of the responsibility involved in caring for a pet and for those who have dogs, pet owners must take their dogs out for a daily walking which encourages the senior to also get out for that daily walk.
Things to consider when choosing a pet:
- Type of pet. Give careful thought to what would be the right kind of pet for you or your loved one’s lifestyle and activity level. Dogs can make wonderful companions but demand greater care and training than cats, birds, or fish.
- Future situations. Choose a pet that’s good for both your current circumstances and what’s may occur in the future. Are you planning to stay in the same place for many years, or will you be making a transition to an assisted-living facility? Some retirement communities have regulations that would affect the type of pet you could bring with you but most small animals are welcomed with a pet deposit fee.
- Allergy considerations. People with allergies should be cautious when choosing a pet.
- Cost. Seniors living on a fixed income must consider vet bills, meds, food and or litter care/cost.
- Contingency plan for care: Make sure to plan for the pet’s future in the event that you or your loved one is no longer able to care properly for the animal. Also, be sure to be prepared for the sense of loss that this can bring. For many who have come to depend on their pets for companionship, attention will be essential.