When elderly adults experience health issues that interfere with their ability to get out and socialize, they can feel quite lonely day after day. Seniors may also struggle with boredom when they are homebound and have difficulty mustering up the desire to be active. Anxiety and depression are also common in elderly adults who deal with a lot of health issues. Concerned family caregivers may want to explore the idea of their aging loved one adopting a dog or cat to help out with all these issues.
Having a dog or cat as a companion can help many aging adults find purpose in their lives. As their bodies experience more health issues and they see their physical abilities diminish, many seniors rely on family caregivers and elder care providers for help with daily tasks. Elder care providers assist seniors with things like bathing, dressing, housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry and driving. Family caregivers usually handle finances, medical issues and more. This leaves aging adults with very few responsibilities and low self-esteem.
Adopting a dog or cat has been shown to help elderly adults greatly, with both their physical and mental health. By taking responsibility for a pet, seniors gain unconditional love, but they also have someone they can focus their attention on. The animal is dependent upon them for all their needs, and this gives seniors that renewed sense of purpose. Even if the aging adult cannot completely care for the dog or cat on their own, and need a little help from elder care providers, they still receive plenty of benefits.
One benefit that having a dog or cat provides for seniors is the inspiration to be active. Dogs and cats need to be fed and watered frequently, and also need active play. Seniors can interact with the animals to the best of their physical ability. Dogs can play fetch and take walks, while cats can chase string or cat toys. Some dogs and cats need regular brushing, which is a fun and soothing activity that seniors can do themselves. In return, the aging adults receive affection and entertainment from their pet.
Studies show that pet owners are at a lower risk for depression and anxiety, and this is especially true for aging adults. Petting and cuddling a dog or cat lowers a person’s blood pressure and reduces stress because the action prompts the body to release hormones that promote good feelings. This can also lead to higher pain thresholds, which is helpful for seniors with chronic pain. The positive self-esteem that seniors get from caring for a dog or cat can boost mental health as well.
It’s clear that adopting a dog or cat is very beneficial for the elderly adult, but family caregivers and elder care providers should not forget how the animal benefits as well. Millions of elderly dogs and cats sit in animal shelters across the country waiting to be adopted. Senior pets are ideal for senior adults because of their temperament, patience and desire for a good home. There’s never a better time for an aging adult to adopt a dog or cat.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Lakewood, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.