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The Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2018 | Elder Law, Estate Planning

One of the most common issues related to the care of senior citizens is related to companionship. This is a particularly common issue if the person is still in their home. The elderly often have health problems which prevent them from regularly leaving their home. It is often the case that they live alone. Even when the senior has regular visitors there will be times when they are alone and loneliness can become an issue.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to help alleviate issues of companionship for senior citizens. Pets can make wonderful companions for anyone, particularly seniors. They are loving, can fill an emotional void, and can provide a sense of purpose. Additionally, if the pet is adopted or rescued the senior can have the additional satisfaction of having given a home to a homeless pet. Pet ownership can actually have physical benefits for the elderly as well. Lowered blood pressure and lowered pulses can be great side effects.

There are, of course, other benefits of pets to senior citizens. Many pets are specifically trained to assist people with certain things. This can be a typical “service dog” that helps with visual and hearing impairments. Some pets, however, have more specialized training, such as dogs who assist with epilepsy.

Emotional support animals and therapy animals can also help with the depression that often comes with loneliness. They not only provide love and companionship, but also a sense of purpose. New research has shown that senior citizens with Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia can actually improve with the assistance of a therapy animal.

There are, of course, some cons for pet ownership by the elderly. If the person has a history of falls or is prone to them, any pet needs to stay away from feet. Some animals, especially dogs, tend to jump on people. This can knock over the elderly, potentially causing injury. Similarly, dogs can cause falls when being walked on a leash. Trying to chase an animal can also result in harm coming to the senior citizen. Fortunately, all of these issues can be easily fixed by the owner being alert and some simple training for the pet. If there are more serious issues, more intensive training courses are available so that the pet can become a certified service animal.

Pets can bring happiness and joy. They can alleviate loneliness and give a sense of purpose to their owner. Anyone who owns a pet can attest to this. If you do own a pet, want to do something to help others, and have a pet who is well-behaved, I would encourage you to contact an assisted living facility or nursing home about visiting with your pet. They can tell you the exact qualifications necessary for this. You will brighten someone’s day.