The Special Bond Between Seniors and Pets
Whether it’s a dog, cat, or maybe even a bird, any animal can have a positive effect on a person, especially seniors. Many people talk about how getting their loved one a pet was the best decision they could’ve made for numerous reasons, and not only did it help the seniors get through the day, it also helped the senior’s family avoid worrying so much about them.
You see, pets have a special effect on people, especially if they become a close companion with their owner and they get along like two peas in a pod. And if you think about it, what more could you ask for when it comes to making sure your senior loved one isn’t lonely?
It’s referred to as Pet Therapy; when a senior becomes an owner of an animal and in turn they become more active, their mood lifts, and they begin to feel that sense of purpose and responsibility again. It’s especially helpful for those who are living on their own and have lost their partner because they need that companionship more than anything. Pets help reduce depression, encourage socialization and they get the senior moving around. But don’t assume that they have to be a dog or a cat.
If you have a loved one that has a difficult time moving around because of health reasons, getting them an energetic dog or elusive cat may be too much for them to handle. Consider giving them something that can stay in one spot, has its own place and is easily accessible, such as a fish or bird.
Now that you know some of the benefits, let’s run through some tips for choosing the right pet:
Choosing the right type
As we mentioned above, depending on the health of your loved one, certain pets may be better than others. If they enjoy going for walks, and they can move around a bit, then maybe a small dog would be a great choice for them. Avoid getting them a large dog as they can become too much to handle daily.
Cats are great for seniors who have had cats before, they’re very different from dogs and while they require less activity, they can still be a lot to handle. They are great for seniors who prefer less maintenance and like things to be a little more quiet than lively. Remember that pets such as fish and birds can still make a great companion!
Think about the living situation
Since you’re thinking about getting a pet for your senior, you’ve probably been going back and forth between moving them into an assisted living home or not, and this is something you have to consider before you make your decision. Luckily, there are assisted living facilities that are pet-friendly, so before you choose a companion for your loved one, consider finding a pet-friendly assisted living home that they may be going to in the future so that you know they wouldn’t have to part ways after forming a special bond.
Even if your loved one has previously been a pet owner, allergies can develop over time and they may be allergic to certain pets. Consider getting one that is hypoallergenic, but also remember that pet allergies aren’t the only allergies to worry about. Allergies can also come from pollen and dust, all of which can be brought into the house by an animal who has recently been outside. If your loved one has a history of getting allergies during pollen season, then be sure to have them take medication to limit the reaction. Also, to avoid dust allergies, visit their home every so often and spruce it up if they’re unable to.