Depression and loneliness can happen at any age but seniors are at high risk for these conditions. Limited mobility, illness, isolation, loss of friends or family members can all contribute to a continuous feeling of being alone in this big world.
While no one can revive a loved one who has departed or a family who has moved away, there is an antidote to unwanted solitude. The joyful companionship of a pet can change the emotional landscape for a lonely senior citizen.
Some benefits of pet ownership include:
- Reduce depression and feelings of loneliness and increase socialization
- Increase physical activity if your dog needs walking or exercise
- Add structure and routine to daily life (feeding, walking, providing care)
- Most important, there is nothing that compares to the unconditional love from a companion
Before bringing a pet into your loved one’s home, you will want to consider:
- Any disabilities Cats often require less care then dogs or perhaps a canary or other bird?
- Therapy pets Some people qualify for a specially trained therapy pet. Speak with your doctor, social workers, or senior center about this possibility. Online resources are available for information about requirements and restrictions
- Age of pet A young pet may be more work than your senior can handle. An older pet may have debilitating issues of his own. Finding the right balance is important!
- Pet temperament Make sure you understand the temperament of the pet, particularly dogs. Some breeds are more high strung and will require more effort.
- Health Check the health of the pet. The last thing you’d want is to find out too late that there are health issues that require expensive vet bills, and an unknown lifespan.
At any age, pet ownership is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. You can help your senior find local resources for dog walkers, pet sitters, traveling veterinarians, and low cost clinics.
If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with a