Pets can definitely be one of the best forms of therapy for all ages. They can be the perfect calming companion or the best way to brighten your day. According to a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “pets can satisfy both the longing for company and the desire for affection.” Today on the blog, our topic will be focused on some of the ways seniors can benefit from owning a pet. Specifically referring to a cat or dog but these benefits can also pertain to birds or even fish.
Firstly, a pet can help to give our seniors a sense of meaning and help them feel that much more purposeful. Most pets like cats and dogs need a master. All pets need someone to rely on to feed and take care of them. This helps seniors to occupy their time more. According to veterinarian, Dr. Katharine Hillestad, “a new pet can stimulate someone to read up on an animal or breed, which can be very mentally stimulating and important at that age.” This is true for all types of pets. For birds specifically, parakeets can be taught to talk – this takes little physical effort and can be a fun daily activity. Dogs can be taught simple tricks like to sit or lay down. Fish need to be fed, and they could also spark interest in our seniors and their desire to learn more about the different types of marine life.
Pets can also be extremely therapeutic both mentally and physically. If your elderly loved one has just lost a significant other or someone very close to them, a pet, especially cats and dogs, can be a great companion. Cats and dogs have a lot of unconditional love to give. In terms of physical therapy, dogs specifically, provide a way for seniors to get up and moving. By walking a dog, our seniors have a reason to get up and get their blood pumping by walking around and being active.
Seniors with disabilities can also benefit immensely from owning a service dog. Service dogs are trained to perform acts that can be helpful in daily life. According to an article by Barbara Ballinger from Aging Care, “Service dog skills include: opening doors with a strap, pushing doors closed, helping their handler dress and undress, helping those in wheelchairs sit up straight & place feet and arms on footrests and armrests, preventing falls, and retrieving wheelchairs and walkers.” It is truly incredible what we can teach these service dogs to do.
It’s important that if you do decide a pet is the right option for an elderly loved one, they have the ability and necessities to fully care for the animal. Although pets can be great for many different reasons, there are times where they can be a burden for seniors. Also, getting a puppy for the elderly might not always be the best idea, using sites like petfinder.com are great at pairing senior citizens with pets, this could be a great option. Do the research and find out the best companion for your elderly loved one.
Ballinger, Barbara. “The Healing Power of Pets for Elderly People.” The Benefits of Elderly Owning Pets – AgingCare.com, 18 Jan. 2010, www.agingcare.com/articles/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets-113294.htm.
“How Pet Therapy Has Changed Assisted Living – A Place for Mom.” a Place for Mom, www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/pet-friendly-assisted-living.
Scheibeck, R, et al. European Journal of Medical Research, BioMed Central, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3351901/.
“Seniors and Pets.” Aging In Place, www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/.