February is responsible pet owners month. As a family caregiver, this may be the ideal opportunity for you to consider introducing a new furry friend into your parents life so that they can reap the benefits that regular interaction with an animal can provide. Many studies have demonstrated that caring for an animal can provide tremendous benefits for seniors, improving not only their quality of life, but also their health and well-being.
Some of the benefits of owning a pet for an elderly adult include:
- Pets can encourage activity and fitness. Having a pet can encourage your aging loved one to engage in physical activity more often. Playing with a cat or walking a dog can help your parent move around more, improving their health and protecting their mobility.
- Pets are good for the heart. Cuddling up to a furry friend does not just make your parents feel good, it is actually good for their cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that regular interaction with animals reduces the risk of heart attack and improves chances of recovery and survival if the senior does experience an attack.
- Pets boost social interaction. Regularly interacting with others is an important part of maintaining mental and emotional health and well-being. Many seniors, however, do not get as much social interaction as they need. Having a dog is a fantastic way to find others to interact with. Taking walks in the park or joining a dog walking group will allow your parent to meet others and enjoy conversation with them regularly.
- Pets reduce loneliness. Many elderly adults struggle with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. Having a pet can relieve these feelings and help your parent to feel more relevant and involved.
- Pets help create structure. Having a schedule can help a senior feel less like their life is just passing them by. When they no longer work or have structured activities, they can feel as though there isn’t much reason to get up, get dressed, and go about their day. Having a pet provides structure and gives them tasks that they must do at regular intervals throughout the day, including feeding the animal, interacting with the animal, and walking or cleaning up after them.
If your parent has been struggling with needs that you do not feel that you can meet efficiently, your own challenges and limitations have increased and your ability to care for your parent has changed, or you simply feel that they would benefit from a wider, more diversified care team, now may be the ideal time for you to consider starting home care for them. An in-home senior care services provider can be with your parent to fill care gaps, manage care tasks that are too difficult for you or that you or for your parent are not comfortable with you handling, and help them to pursue a lifestyle that is as independent and fulfilling as possible as they age in place. This can ease your stress, support your own health and well-being, and help to keep your relationship with your senior meaningful and beneficial throughout their later years.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care in Robbinsville, NJ or the surrounding areas, please call Independence Home Care today at 609-208-1111 for more information