Pets for Seniors
As we humans live longer, it’s only natural that the advisability of pets for seniors also becomes a more common concern. Among these concerns, of course, are many benefits.
We know, for example, that pets provide companionship and unconditional love. Studies show that merely petting an animal lowers blood pressure and stress. A pet can also help with social interaction and forces us to increase our physical activity. This is true for all pet owners, but can be especially important for seniors, who often live a more secluded lifestyle.
At Ask Linda Pet Sitting, we believe that pets are great companions; but we also believe that before you get a companion pet for yourself, a child, or your aging parent, you should consider the responsibilities and care.
The Home Environment
Does your senior parent live alone, in an apartment, a senior living facility, or with you in your home? You should consider whether the pet will have the run of the whole house or can be restricted to a smaller area where your parent can maintain better control. And don’t forget the neighborhood and the neighbors; for example, does your parent live in an area where a barking dog would be tolerated?
The Type of Pet
Smaller pets, like cats and small dogs, can be great companions, but can be harder to see, especially in the dark. Because they like to stay close, pets can quickly get underfoot before your parent even knows they are there. This presents a dangerous fall risk. A grown or even senior dog or cat would be preferable over a kitten or puppy simply because of the energy level needed to care for them and train them. We advocate adopting a senior pet.
Your Parent’s Mobility and Strength
Does your elderly parent have sufficient mobility and strength to care for a new companion pet? Can your parent take a dog for walks outside or easily clean a litter box? And is your senior parent mobile and agile enough to function safely with a cat or dog underfoot?
Your Parent’s Mental Acuity
Is your aging parent experiencing cognitive impairment at any level? If so, you’ll want to ask yourself if your parent has the memory and mental capabilities necessary to properly care for a pet. It’s not just about remembering to feed or care for the pet either. Does your parent drop pills and not realize it? Does your parent leave small items like rubber bands and paper clips lying around? As hard as it is to face, any short-term memory lapses or oversights could endanger a companion pet.
Another hard reality to face, but a necessary consideration, is that of life expectancy – for your parent and the pet. Even if your parent is likely to live beyond the lifespan of the new pet, is your parent frequently in the hospital or a rehab unit, requiring someone else to care for the pet? And what if the companion pet does outlive your parent; are you or other family members or friends prepared to adopt the pet?
The Bottom Line
Pets for seniors can be wonderful. These furry companions add great joy to a senior parent’s life. But there are risks involved in introducing a new companion pet into the home. If you decide to get your aging parent a new pet and there are times when your parent cannot be there to care for the pet, give us a call. We work in several of the retirement villages in Northwest Indianapolis, walking dogs and cleaning litterboxes for those who value their pets but can’t do these chores. To learn more, contact us at 317.224.5243.
If you are looking for a pet sitter in Indianapolis, Carmel, Zionsville and nearby areas in Central Indiana, you’ve come to the right place. At Ask Linda Pet Sitting, we specialize in cat sitting, dog sitting, dog walking, and professional in-home pet care. We are not veterinarians, but we follow pet safety procedures and are trained for pet emergency situations. Above all, at Ask Linda Pet Sitting, we believe in education and proactive pet health. Linda is the only NAPPS certified pet sitter in Indianapolis, and is also a certified pet First Aid/CPR/Wellness instructor. Want to learn more? Ask Linda!