Giving an elderly person, the gift of a pet is a thoughtful act. Consider what kind of pet would suit the older person and any extra work for the caregiver. Helping Seniors With Pets can be beneficial and difficult at the same time.
A pet makes a great companion for a senior. A dog or cat offers comfort for an older adult during times of isolation and loneliness. Pets have therapeutic value for the elderly; in fact, interacting with a beloved pet can lower blood pressure and ease stress.
Buying A Pet For An Elderly Person Means Extra Caregiver Duties
But pets also generate extra work for caregivers, and they’re an added expense in the household. Pets need daily grooming. Some pets need baths and regular visits to the vet. A dog or cat can be costly with food and vaccinations.
An Elderly Person Who Cares for a Pet
The most low-maintenance dog or cat still needs care and attention. An aquarium can provide hours of enjoyment, but fish need to be fed, and the tank needs to be cleaned periodically.
As a loved one grows older, caring for an animal may become an overwhelming task. Forgetting to feed and water a pet is only the beginning for the elder who can’t provide adequate attention to the animal.
There are other points to consider when an older person becomes responsible for a pet. Aging naturally affects hearing and vision in the older pet owner. Small energetic dogs can cause dangerous falls to an older adult who can’t see well. A cat can also cause falls, and cat litter boxes must be kept clean.
Birds may be too difficult for a senior to care for. Bird droppings left to dry can turn to dust and contaminate the air – and could even cause respiratory problems for humans.
Home health aides, visiting social workers, and therapists often make home visits and record information about the elder’s living environment. These professionals are obligated to record and report such problems as foul odors in the home, pet droppings, and unclean animals that appear neglected.
Helping Seniors with Pets Makes Added Work for a Caregiver
The relative who is a home caregiver to an elderly parent or other senior family member has a full schedule already. Adding pet care to a caregiver’s workload may not be the fair thing to do.
Dogs need to be walked, and other animals require at least some maintenance. The caregiver also takes on the chore of scheduling vet visits and providing any specialized care the animal needs.
In contrast, a pet’s safety could be jeopardized if the elderly loved one has behavior issues brought on by age or illness. Elderly persons with dementia can sometimes be combative when provoked. A frightened pet may bite, scratch, or cause injury to both the older adult and the caregiver who tries to intervene. Helping Seniors With Pets is important.
Think Before Choosing a Pet for an Elderly Person
The expense, respiratory problems, possible injuries, and cleanup are just a few issues that have to be taken into account when contemplating the best pet for an aging senior.
A large dog may prevent home break-ins, but such a pet needs a spacious yard for running. At the very least, a large dog would create a significant expense in food. A small dog eats less, but could easily trip the owner and cause serious injury.
While a cat might appear to be the right pet choice for an elderly person, one has to consider vet bills, food, grooming, and daily cleaning of the cat litter box.
Consult with the older adult’s caregiver before deciding on a pet. The senior may have allergies or some medical reason that prevents him or her from direct contact with animals.
Many seniors who live alone are on fixed incomes and cannot afford pet expenses. Still, other elders don’t want to be bothered by the care and upkeep that comes with pet ownership.
An older dog or cat may suit an older person. Kittens and puppies love to play and chew on things – not a very practical pet choice for an older person who doesn’t move fast or can’t see well.
Caged animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs are fun to watch, but these pets are rather high-strung and don’t care to be handled much. Think before making a pet choice for an elderly person. While some pets can provide comfort and companionship, it’s always best to consult with the caregiver or older adult first to make the most appropriate decision.
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