Hopefully, you had the chance to grow up owning pets! Having a furry friend around is great for teaching children how to responsibly care for something, how to positively interact with animals everywhere, and the pride that comes with pet ownership and care. There’s also nothing quite like that sloppy lick and eager face at the end of a workday, and the way pets walk through each day with such innocent, carefree naivety. Did you know that a fluffy companion can greatly increase a Senior’s quality of life as they deal with the challenges that come with aging? Below we list several ways that a pet might enhance your elderly loved one’s day-to-day life.

Sense of Purpose

When a Senior cares for a pet, two individuals are affected. The pet’s life is also enhanced after they come into care. Seeing progress from the time you adopt a pet to when they begin to become comfortable in your home, adopt a healthier lifestyle, and get back that full coat of fur can be so rewarding to any pet owner! Having a sense that their presence and care is so needed in the furry friend’s life can create a sense of meaning and purpose for the Senior.

Increased Activity

Getting up and about to feed, walk, or even just throw a toy for a pet can make a world of a difference in a Senior’s daily activity over time. It’s a great excuse to get outside with a happy pup, or even just enjoy some sunshine time with a napping cat. Whether the pets gets you around the neighborhood, or just your front porch, they are instilling a habit of movement that can be helpful to a Senior’s overall health.

Enhanced Health

Pets have also been shown to decrease stress and blood pressure over time, and might help reduce anxiety if your Senior deals with this. One psychotherapist put it this way:

“Dogs and cats live very much in the present, they don’t worry about tomorrow, which can be a very scary concept for an older person. An animal embodies that sense of here and now, and it tends to rub off on people” (Dr. Jay P. Granat). Does your loved one need help accepting and living in the present with their illness or failing health? A pet can help them do so.

Companionship

And the obvious benefit of a pet, companionship. Usually this is the reason why we buy a pet in the first place, for that extra little snuggle of love at the end of a day or an eager little nose to great us when we get home from a long day. Aging can be lonely, and many times Seniors are losing friends and family members left and right. Having a healthy pet and companion can bring a sense of security and companionship as other aspects of life become more unpredictable. This companionship can help Seniors find something other than pain and illness to be focused on throughout the day, and if dealing with chronic pain, this can be a huge psychological release.

5 Senses

Here at At Home, we tend to take a focus or “expertise” when it comes to Seniors and the 5 Senses. Many studies have shown that through engaging all the senses in different activities, cognitive function and quality of life can be greatly increased. A pet can certainly engage every sense.

  1. Smell: We all know that each pet has a distinct smell, and regular baths or brushing can alleviate the Senior from having an unwanted smell from an unclean pet in the home. Being aware of the signs and smells that a pet needs a bath, or had an accident can keep a Senior’s sense of smell sharp.

  2. Sight: What’s better than coming home to the sight of your excited pup running to greet you at the door? Pet’s provide us with all sorts of visual entertainment, and do some pretty funny things when we give them our attention. A pet can provide hours of entertainment for a Senior, and serve as a break between tasks and TV shows to interact and enjoy a silly animal.

  3. Touch: When we think of pets, probably the first sense that comes to mind is touch. The first thing we do when we see a fluffy pup is ask, “Can I pet it?” The soft fur and warm touch of a pet can be so healing for any pet owner, and especially a Senior. Feeling the textures and temperature of a pet can be a great way to “self-sooth” at the end of a long day, and keep an elderly individual aware of the textures around them.

  4. Sound: Another sense pets everywhere are capable of testing. A cat meowing or a dog barking can be a signal that something is wrong, the pet needs attention, or it can be a positive reaction to a treat or pet! Being aware of what each of these noises mean and how to decipher what the pet is “saying” can help a Senior daily exercise their sense of sound.

  5. Taste: Now, we don’t usually have the chance to taste anything when interacting with our pets. However, as a pet owner, we are able to provide our pets with new tastes and treats and that might inspire us to try new foods and flavors! In every aspect of these 5 senses, a pet also has the chance to experience the sensations along with their owner, creating a sweet bond that can be a source of encouragement on any hard day.

Does your loved one already have a pet that provides these benefits to their health? Have you been considering helping them adopt a fuzzy companion in the future? In most cases, if the pet is chosen carefully and the Senior is able to care for the day-to-day needs of the pet, the benefits outweigh the challenges in the pet-ownership arena. If you have a Senior that needs help with their own day-to-day needs, call us today to let us help provide assistance in their own home!

(570) 587-4700

Sources:

https://www.sunriseseniorliving.com/blog/july-2019/the-wonder-of-pets.aspx

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets-113294.htm

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-reasons-seniors-should-consider-getting-a-pet-2019-04-03

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