As people age, they struggle with a lot of things, including deteriorating health and mobility issues. However, although these two can have a lot of negative impact on their quality of life, one of the most common age-related issues that causes a lot more damage is social isolation. Due to physical limitations or the loss of friends, older individuals may not be able to participate in social circles as they usually did in their younger years.
One effective solution to alleviate the effects of social isolation in seniors is the companionship of pets. Engaging with pets, primarily through pet therapy, offers a wide range of benefits, including companionship and improved physical/emotional health. Pets offer seniors a source of constant joy and happiness despite the challenges they face in their golden ages.
Benefits of Having a Pet for Seniors
One of the main benefits of having a pet is companionship. Pets can be a valuable companion for older individuals, especially those facing social isolation. They are always present and offer unconditional and non-judgemental love. Seniors can easily develop a strong bond with their pets, which helps alleviate feelings of loneliness and improves their overall well-being. The individual will also need to invest in a pet care routine, which adds structure to their day and gives them a sense of purpose.
Improved Physical Health
Besides providing companionship, pets can also enhance seniors’ physical health. The presence of pets, such as dogs for older people, can encourage seniors to engage in physical activities. In this instance, the dog might need walking or other engaging activities that will promote cardiovascular health and maintain the overall fitness of the older individual. These physical activities can help minimise the risk of obesity, hypertension, heart disease and other sedentary-related health problems.
Factors to Consider When a Getting a Pet for Seniors
When getting a pet for an older individual, it is essential to consider their mobility level. Different pets have varying needs. For instance, a smaller dog will require less physical exercise than a larger breed. For that reason, a smaller pet might be an ideal companion for an older individual with mobility issues. Larger dogs for older people might be too strong for seniors, making it challenging to go on walks in public spaces.
Another crucial factor to consider when getting a pet for older individuals is their living situation. You have to know aspects such as home types, space availability and facility rules.
For home type, assess whether the older individuals will live in their home, rented apartment or in an assisted living facility. Seniors who live in their own homes may not have a lot of issues with owning a pet. However, some assisted living facilities or apartments may restrict pet ownership since they are shared spaces. So, check with management to know exactly what types of pets are allowed on the premises.
When getting a pet, a senior’s preference is another essential factor to consider, especially if it is for pet therapy. In order to ensure compatible companionship and unlock the benefits of having a pet, it is essential to pick an animal that aligns with the senior’s liking.
Some aspects to consider to ensure you make the right choice include previous pet experience, type of interaction desired and activity levels. If the senior has owned a dog before, they are more likely to settle for a dog. Additionally, if they are looking for an animal that keeps them company but does not require much physical engagement, they might go for a cat.
Besides preference, it is also important to take the senior’s financial considerations into account. There are a lot of expenditures that come with owning a pet, from buying them food and veterinary care to pet insurance and grooming supplies.
Handling these financial needs can often drain the senior’s bank account. So, before picking a pet, it is essential to assess their finances to ensure they can provide a comfortable environment for their pets without straining their pockets.
Last but not least, it is essential to consider the maintenance requirements of the pets. Different pets require different levels of maintenance. Older adults may prefer easy pets to take care of because they fit seamlessly into their more slow-paced lifestyle.
Ideally, get them pets with less grooming demands and lower need for exercise. Such are easy pets to look after, which enables seniors to enjoy companionship without the challenges of pet care.
Challenges of Caring for Pets by Seniors
The benefits of having a pet cannot be overstated when it comes to providing companionship to seniors. However, caring for them can come with a lot of challenges, especially as the individual ages. Of course, choosing easy pets to look after can simplify their work to some extent, but some challenges will persist even if the pet is low maintenance.
Examples of common challenges of caring for a pet include:
- Physical limitations
- Financial strains
- Cognitive decline
- Health concerns
There are a few ways for seniors to address the challenges. They include opting for easy pets to take care of, involving the help of family and friends and making adjustments to their living spaces to accommodate their new animal companion. Seniors can also benefit from establishing a care routine, providing structure and predictability for both the individual and the pet.
Caring for a pet can be a challenge for any older individual. However, hiring a live-in carer from Veritas Care can help alleviate the struggles, allowing the senior to enjoy companionship without the hard work of taking care of the pet. Contact us today for a complete care assessment for your older loved one and their pet and ensure they fully reap the benefits of having a pet.