Your elderly mother lives alone in Manatee County, Florida, and you manage your own household in another state. Ever since dad died a year ago, she just hasn’t been the same. Mom seems depressed, and isn’t eating or sleeping enough, or getting the exercise she needs. Now you’re worried that her health and wellbeing may be at risk. What should you do? Studies have found that an effective way to keep seniors more independent and active is by getting them a companion animal.
Should Mom Get a Companion Animal?
Companion animals that make good pets for seniors include dogs, cats and birds, and sometimes even rabbits, fish, ferrets and small reptiles. But before discussing the possibility with mom, you’ll need to consider if a pet is right for her by answering these questions:
Has she had a pet before?
It would be better if mom has owned a pet in the past, but even being a first-time pet owner might work if she’s open to taking on a new and rewarding commitment.
Is she set in her ways?
If mom has some dementia, the stress caused by a new pet in her home could be overwhelming. Or, if she otherwise doesn’t embrace change well, a companion animal may not be a good idea.
Is her mobility limited?
For seniors that use a mobility assistance device, like a walker, a pet that would need to be walked frequently probably isn’t advisable.
What’s mom’s personality like?
If mom would benefit most from a dog or cat, make sure the personality of the breed in question matches hers.
Can mom financially support a pet?
Food, vet care, toys and trips to the groomer can add up. If mom’s finances are limited, a less-expensive pet like a bird or fish might be lighter on her pocketbook.
What’s the pet care backup plan?
Since you live far away, consider who would take care of the pet if mom goes in the hospital for a few days. Make sure that there’s a reliable friend, neighbor or family member that can step in.
Once you’ve satisfactorily checked off all these “boxes”, it’s time to look at the various ways a companion animal could help keep mom feeling busy and rejuvenated.
How a Companion Animal Benefits Seniors
These are some of the many ways that pets keep seniors more active and independent:
Spicing Up Their Daily Routine
Many seniors get into a stale routine, so having a pet will add spice, variety and complexity to mom’s day. A pet is also a great reason to get out of bed in the morning with something new to look forward to.
Walking a dog or talking to others about another type of pet are great ice breakers that help seniors cultivate new friendships. Studies have found that the more socializing an older person does, the less likely they’ll be to feel lonely and depressed.
If mom decides to go with a dog, those daily walks will provide her with exercise that’s good for the heart, immune system, muscle strength, a better night’s sleep and healthy appetite.
Learning about how to care for a new pet requires much thought and ongoing research, which is good for mom’s mind and memory.
Mom probably spent her days nurturing you kids growing up, and then doing so for dad as his health started to decline. Having a companion animal to care for fills that nurturing void and will make mom feel wanted and needed every day.
If you get her a larger dog mom is going to feel safer living by herself, or while going out for an evening walk. She can also put the dog in her car for some added protection while running errands.
In-Home Companion Caregivers for Manatee County, FL, Seniors
Encouraging aging in place seniors to stay more active and independent by using companion animals is one solution. Another option you have is hiring a carefully screened companion caregiver through First In Care. Our fully licensed and insured aides can provide the nurturing companionship your loved one deserves to keep them aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
In addition to companionship, our highly trained caregivers can also perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, pet care, meals, medication reminders and transportation. And, all our family trusted home care services can be flexibly tailored in an affordable package that will give you peace-of-mind. To schedule a FREE, in-home assessment with First In Care for a senior in Manatee County, FL, please visit: www.firstincare.com now!