For most people, pets make wonderful additions to our families. We love and treat them just like we would any other family member. They are great companions, capable of love and affection, and they often fill the void of loneliness in our lives. So would a goldfish, cat, or dog be good idea for senior care?
The following are some things to consider about pets for senior care:
- Strength and Mobility
Does the senior involved have the strength and mobility it will take to care for a pet? Dogs will need to go for walks and go outside to the bathroom. Will the senior be able to clean the litter box? Are they capable of getting food and water for a cat or dog?
- Type of Pet
Cats and dogs can be great company but large dogs and young kittens can create a safety hazard for an aging person. If a large dog jumps up when excited, they could knock a person off balance and cause them to fall. Kittens and even full grown cats have a tendency to get underfoot. Small dogs and cats are great to cuddle with but are harder for seniors to see, especially when it is dark and can become a tripping hazard.
- Mental Awareness
A senior suffering from memory lapses or who is not mentally aware of his or her surroundings can endanger the life of the pet. Cats and dogs are curious by nature and often like to chew on things that can be harmful to them. A senior would have to be able to make sure that there are no potentially dangerous items lying around, especially medications.
- Age and Illness of the Senior
Consider the age and illness of your loved one. Are they frequently in the hospital for care or a rehab center? This would require someone else to be available to provide care for the pet. If the pet outlives your loved one, who would then resume care of the pet?
Would a Fish Make a Better Pet?
While a fish requires less supervision and little care, this could be the very reason why it poses less of a health benefit to aging seniors. They may be nice to sit and watch, but having the responsibility of making sure the needs of a pet, such as a cat or dog, are met seemed to be the best option. It’s instinct for humans to want to provide care.
Studies have shown that pets are beneficial to seniors. Pets help seniors stay mentally alert, help maintain physical stamina, and they live longer, happier lives. An elderly person with the burden of caretaker for a pet may actually be helpful in prolonging their life.