Activity and Nurturing for Elders with Pets

For seniors living alone or dealing with the loss of a loved one, life can get boring, monotonous, and depressing. The benefits of having a pet at home may just be the tonic to keep them involved, engaged, and on a consistent schedule.

According to a three-year study at the Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia results showed that pet owners were healthier than non-owners. This finding could not be explained by such personal differences as cigarette smoking, diet, weight, or socio-economic profile.  Pet owners were found to have significantly lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, as well as lower systolic blood pressure readings than non-pet owners. When examining the results, researchers could not find any other factors other than pet ownership that influenced the outcome.  Pet owners reported they were more active, but they also drank more alcohol and ate more take-out food. 

But doesn’t it make sense? Pets provide a senior with daily company. And perhaps more importantly, pets give seniors someone to care about. Most elders have lived their lives taking care of someone…spouse, children, grandchildren, extended family. When no one is around, there is a huge void in the daily life of an elder.  Most people are social beings, and having a pet enables the senior to remain “social”. For example, you can talk to a dog; get exercise while walking a dog; provide treats and snacks to a dog; and remain on a daily schedule by caring for the household pet.

Care staff at Home Care Partners has been tasked with taking care of the house pet when the senior has lost the ability to do so. In these cases, our staff takes a “household” approach to providing services. Obviously, we focus on the senior and their needs…bathing, dressing, meal preparation, medications. But also on other household needs…daily schedules, shopping, light housekeeping, laundry…and helping to take care of the household pet if needed!

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