As a family caregiver, you want to do everything that you can to help your parent live the highest quality of life possible as they age and place.
Many studies have shown that owning a pet and taking care of that pet can offer tremendous benefits to elderly adults, including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, protecting against heart attacks, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation, increasing social interaction, and providing increased opportunity for physical activity. It is important, however, that you determine if your parent would actually gain these benefits and if they would be capable of taking care of the animals before you introduce a new furry friend into their care routine.
Some things to keep in mind when determining if getting a pet for your senior is a good move include:
Whether or not your parent likes animals. If you never had pets growing up and never heard your parent express a desire to have an animal in their life, they might not be the type of person who would like a pet. It is important that you determine whether they would even enjoy having an animal in their home before you make this introduction
Whether your parents’ physical health allows for it. Some medical conditions and health challenges make it so that being around animals is not safe or healthy for an elderly adult. Talk to your parents’ doctor about their current health and issues to determine if having an animal in their home is a safe choice
Whether they can understand caring for the animal. If your aging parent is struggling with cognitive functioning decline such as due to Alzheimer’s disease, they may no longer understand the concept of owning a pet and may not be able to take care of it properly. This can lead to a dangerous situation for the animal. Having this type of decline does not necessarily mean your parent cannot have an animal, however. You and a home care provider can help the senior remember how to take care of the animals safely, allowing them to gain the benefits while also making sure that the animal is safe and healthy
Whether they have the physical ability to care for the animal. Taking care of a pet can require physical activities such as walking a dog, cleaning a litter box, and providing food and water. If your parent suffers from extensive physical challenges, they may not be able to handle these activities. Determine whether they would be able to do this on their own, or if they might be able to receive support and assistance from you or a home care provider to fulfill these tasks for a pet
Whether their home is appropriate for an animal. A senior who lives in a small apartment may not be a good candidate for a dog who would like to be able to run and play. Some homes do not allow animals if the tenant is renting. Evaluate your parents home to determine if they are allowed to have pets, and what type of pet might be best for them
How can senior care help?
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 are not comfortable for you or for your parent for you to handle, 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 Senior Care in East Meadow, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions. Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961
Jennifer has specialized training in Alzheimer’s disease through the Long Island Alzheimer’s Association and the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation.She also volunteered her time with the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center of Long Island for 3 years by providing cognitive stimulation to an Alzheimer’s patient group.
Jennifer educates the community about elder care and speaks to caregiver support groups, senior centers, and at professional organizations.Topics include home safety, effective strategies for family caregiving, elder care planning, and awareness about elder abuse.
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