Most people instantly flash a
smile at the sight of a pet. It's how most of us
instinctively react to animals - they have the magical
power to boost our spirits. For seniors, who may find
themselves lonely and with a limited support system, a
pet can have close to life-saving benefits.
Some seniors do well living alone. But pets can become invaluable companions and form a true bond with those seniors who may otherwise become overwhelmed with loneliness. It is important to remember that being alone is not the same as feeling lonely.
Pet Therapy For Elderly
The benefits of pet therapy are becoming more widely accepted. While there are support animals for seniors with special needs, the enormous advantages of having the company of an ordinary pet may not be fully recognized. But those advantages are undeniable, especially for seniors. Pets provide important emotional support for those who live alone, with their family scattered elsewhere.
What Is Pet Therapy?
Pet therapy for the elderly is a mild but powerful therapy that provides emotional support. Simple interactions with pets can help seniors lower their stress level and increase their feeling of well-being. The bond they share with their pet helps reduce their feelings of isolation and loneliness. The simple act of walking a dog can result in meetings and conversations with other dog owners.
What Are the Values of Pet Therapy?
There are many benefits to having a pet. Possibly the top value is the unconditional love and acceptance a pet provides. Many seniors have lost or are alienated from family and friends and feel there is no one left who cares about them. In addition:
1. Caring for a pet can increase a senior's self-esteem by doing something useful.
2. Having a pet will also increase the senior's level of activity, which is important for seniors who have become less mobile.
3. A pet can reduce stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression.
4. Elderly who have difficulty communicating with other people will frequently spend long periods of time chatting with their pet.
The value of a pet companion is such that many seniors even mend more quickly from an illness. The feeling of their beloved companion needing them can factor into a speedier recovery.
Seniors become less mobile with time. Simple movements like rising from a sofa, take more effort than before. Have a pet to walk and play with provides seniors with a tremendous incentive to remain more active, which equals being overall healthier.
Pets and Cognitive Issues
Taking care of a pet helps seniors retain greater cognitive health. When living alone, some seniors forget to take proper care of themselves. They may not bathe regularly or forget to eat. Having a pet that needs to be walked and fee several times a day keeps seniors in sharper focus. They need to get dressed to go outside. They need to maintain a certain schedule. In addition, they are now responsible for the well-being of someone else. Simply caring for a dog or a cat will help a senior sharpen his or her acuity. Having a pet adds meaning to a senior's life.
Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet
There are tremendous benefits to pet therapy. However, there are certain things that are to be considered prior to getting a furry companion.
1. Pets, especially a dog, can be physically demanding. They require exercise and playtime. Senior pet owners need to be capable of this level of mobility. Some animals, such as cats, may be more suitable for some seniors.
2. Having a pet can be expensive. They need to be fed and require veterinary care periodically. For the elderly on a fixed income, the cost can add up.
3. An important consideration for any senior is the type of dog they're planning to get. Certain dogs are bred for "work" and have a great deal of energy. These dogs include border collies, Australian shepherds, huskies, and high-energy Jack Russell terriers. These are wonderful dogs but may require more energy than a senior can spare.
Smaller dogs, such as a low-maintenance bichon frise, a snuggly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or a manageable French bulldog may be more suitable for seniors. Golden retrievers are large, but always beyond gentle and patient.
The advantage of having a pet adds tremendous value to a person's well-being. The pet not only serves as a friend and a companion but also provides emotional and therapeutic support especially to seniors.
Give us a call today at (858)774-8528.