Pets have the ability to make anyone happy, which is perhaps the reason why there are between 70-96 million cats and dogs in the homes of US residents. Having a pet can be particularly helpful for the elderly, and can keep them happy and healthy when they are living alone. At the same time, there are concerns when it comes to taking care of the pet, as older people with limited mobility and other health issues may find taking on the responsibilities of looking after a pet overwhelming. But this should not be a reason to deny them the happiness of having a furry friend. Try these ways to help your elderly parents, relatives, or even a senior neighbor keep their pets and take care of them well:
- Help with grooming
Grooming is a big responsibility to keep the pet in good shape. However, hands that are battling arthritis or nervous issues may find even the simple task of holding a brush difficult, leading to frustration. You can either take time out a few times in a week to help groom the pet or foot the bill by calling for professional grooming services.
- Volunteer to pet-sit when the senior is in hospital
The fear of having no one to leave their pets with often deters the elderly from keeping a pet, and this is where friends and family can step in. Just the knowledge that you are there to pet-sit their companion when the person needs to make hospital visits can be a huge relief. It will take just a few hours or days for you, but for the senior it is a chance to still keep their pet.
- Enlist the services of a reliable veterinarian
While visits to the vet are a must for any pet parent, elderly people battling their own health may find it an almost impossible task. To ensure the well being of both the pet and the senior, find a vet who makes house calls in that area and keep the contact details visible in the person’s house. You can ask your regular vet for a referral about vets who are okay with making house visits.
- Offer to exercise the pets
Having a dog can help a person get regular exercise, but if someone has a disability or is confined due to illness, this may not always be a possibility. Offer to walk the dog or play with it so that the pet stays healthy without the owner having to stress about it. Moreover, a well-exercised dog will be less hyper and more suited to the needs of a senior.
- Look for pet-friendly assisted living
If a senior in your family or neighborhood has to move into a senior community, it is already a big change for them. To avoid giving them the additional grief of being separated from a beloved pet, look for assisted living communities that allow pets. Such facilities are increasingly understanding the importance of pet therapy, and you are sure to find one that best meets the person’ requirements.
A survey conducted in 2014 showed that 53% of people between the ages of 65 and 69 own pets, but the number falls as the age group increases. Most seniors, unfortunately, have to give up their beloved pets because they are not fit enough to look after their four-legged friends. Just a few simple efforts like the ones listed here can give a senior around you the joy of having a loyal, loving companion. There are also several programs that volunteer for such causes, and you can get in touch with them to help an elderly person you know adopt a pet and enjoy many years of love and laughter.
Guest post by Jessica Brody