Senior Home Care Blog Northern Utah

How Pet Ownership Can Make Seniors Happier

By Teresa Nelson

How Pet Ownership Can Make Seniors Happier

No matter what age we are, we all benefit from having a soft fluffy animal to lavish our affection upon. They provide cuddle time and are loyal to us, without asking much in return.

Pets not only fills the need to nurture and take care of something, but they can also improve our health! Did you know that the benefits of owning a pet go far beyond companionship? It’s true! Studies have been done that proves how a pet lowers blood pressure and heart rate, lowers the risk of heart disease and stress, and even prevents depression.

Dogs need to be walked, cats need to be fed and played with, and all these things require action from the pet owner, which in turn requires activity from the owner. This is a benefit if the owner is a senior. Many seniors need a reason to go outside and be active. Sometimes having a pet is just enough to motivate them to do just that.

What Kind of Pet Should Seniors Get?

Different pets and different breeds come with needs all their own. Just like humans are unique, so are pets. They may require different far more exercise than some other dogs. Cats don’t require a lot but they like knowing someone is there to offer play and feed them. If the senior in life could benefit from a dog, for instance, think about the size of the dog. A big dog might seem protective but if the owner can’t handle him, that might not be a good idea. You should consider how much energy the senior will have and make sure they can keep up with the demand for a dog that size.

Don’t forget that dogs and cats are not the only options for pets. Seniors can derive lots of entertainment and enjoyment from small pets such a guinea pig or hamster. Even a nice fish tank can be fun to have and requires little maintenance.

If you or your senior loved one is considering a pet, think about the following pros and cons:

Pros:

People who own dogs will get more exercise from needing to walk the dog daily.

Seniors who are already outgoing will enjoy the social interaction of a furry friend. Walking a dog through the neighborhood streets can easily turn into a great way to meet new people and socialize.

Pets take the attention of aches and pains of the owner and decrease worry and anxiety.

Having a pet in the house naturally combats loneliness and therefore decreases depression.

For seniors, it’s important to keep fine motor skills going. Cleaning a litter box out or brushing and grooming a dog helps keep them active.

Having pets makes us feel responsible and useful. Our pets need us, and we need them.

Possible Cons:

If the senior is set in their ways an unable to adjust the home to accept a pet and all it needs, then it may not be the best idea.

Consider the level of responsibility that comes with a pet. If the senior does not have the stamina or willingness to take responsibility for a pet’s needs, it might not be the right choice. We’ve seen way too often where dogs and other pets will pee and poo all over the house because they weren’t let out enough.

Consider how mobile the senior is. If hey are challenged by short walks, then the obvious choice would be a smaller dog or kitty who is paper-trained and doesn’t require as much walking time.

Consider the cost. Pets do come with expenses such as vet bills, food and possible boarding if the owner is away.

Finally, consider the age of your pet. It’s not uncommon for many doge and cats to outlive their owners since pets often have lifespan of 15 or more years. If the pet should outlive the owner, arrangements need to be made ahead of time of who will continue caring for the pet.

If you think your senior loved one would benefit from having a pet, please contact us today! And please consider adopting your pet from the local rescue humane society! These pets need a forever home!

Home Helpers of Northern Utah is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, Alzheimer's & dementia care as well as homemaker services in Ogden, North Ogden, South Ogden, Pleasant View, Clearfield, Roy, Clinton, Hooper, West Point, Syracuse, Riverdale, West Haven, Plain City, Brigham City, Logan, North Logan, Providence, Smithfield, Tremonton, and Farr West, Utah.