Deciding Whether a Pet is a Good Companion for Aging Adults

Pets and the Elderly: A Good Idea?

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Your senior parent or loved one has been wistfully wishing for a companion animal to look after. A friendly small dog or house cat, perhaps? As a concerned family caregiver in Grand Rapids, you worry a pet would be a burden, or worse, lead to trouble. Is it really a good idea?

These are excellent questions. The truth is, there’s no easy, one-size-fits-all answer. Pet ownership is different for every person, because each senior has their own unique mix of needs, desires and capabilities. However, Home Care Assistance of Grand Rapids, MI is going to take a look at the main considerations involved in senior pet ownership, so you can better help your loved one make an informed decision.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

There are enormous benefits associated with pet companionship for many aging adults, especially those that are homebound. A pet has the potential to be a wellspring of stress relief and joy, while helping to combat loneliness. Moreover, many seniors miss having someone or something to take care of. For these individuals, a pet can be incredibly therapeutic. In fact, researchers say caring for a pet can inspire psychological well-being and improved physical health – especially for those with dementia.

It is however, important to acknowledge that pets are not a good option for some seniors. Some older adults will find the constant demands of pet ownership stressful and unmanageable as the result of mobility issues, age related conditions or monetary concerns Other potential problems a senior might encounter may include but are not limited to:

  • A pet could cause a serious fall
  • A pet could get spooked and bite
  • Energetic pets may have hard-to-meet exercise needs
  • The senior may need help caring for their pet. For example, they may need assistance acquiring and handling heavy bags of pet food.

Discussing Matters with Your Aging Loved One

If your aging loved one is interested in pet ownership, it is important to go over the pros and cons with them, ensuring they know the responsibilities that are associated with having a new pet at home. If together, you can’t come up with effective preventative solutions for these issues, a pet might not be the right option for your aging parent or loved one.

For more information about caring for an aging loved one at home, contact Home Care Assistance of Grand Rapids today. We are Michigan’s trusted choice for in-home care, offering flexible hourly schedules and specialty care including dementia, Parkinson’s and stroke care in Grand Rapids. Call 616-243-0835 to speak with a Care Manager and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.