For many seniors, pets are loyal companions that assist with everyday tasks, give comfort, and curb loneliness. They can help seniors stay active and engaged within their communities. Studies have shown that spending time with an animal can lower blood pressure and help prevent a heart attack or stroke. With all these benefits, it’s no wonder so many elderly people insist on keeping their pets even when mobility becomes a concern.
It can be difficult, however, for some seniors to think about giving a pet the level of care he needs, especially if they themselves have issues with their own health. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to care for a pet and keep him safe and happy. Having a good plan in the beginning will ensure he gets to live in a space that has been prepared with his needs in mind.
Here are a few of the best tips for seniors on how to take care of a pet:
Hire a dog walker
For those who have health or mobility issues, it’s necessary to create a plan for a pet, who needs lots of exercise. Dogs love to run, play, and go for walks, but if that’s too difficult, a dog walker can serve as a proxy. He or she will come at certain times of the day to provide much- needed physical activity. Rover.com offers listing of loving dog-centric people across the country including walkers and pet sitters.
Have designated spots for his belongings
Seniors should also create a designated area for the pet’s belongings; for instance, his toys should go in a basket or crate where they are easily accessible to him. They should be put back immediately after he’s done using them to prevent them from becoming trip hazards. Food and water dishes should stay in one spot to avoid confusion. These aren’t just good rules for pet owners, but for all seniors as having too much clutter on the floor, whether from pets or visiting grandchildren, can be a falling hazard.
Find a good vet
No matter how healthy the pet, he’ll need regular checkups and care from a veterinarian. Finding the right veterinarian is vital to the pet’s health. A few even make house calls, which offers an unrivaled level of convenience, especially if getting out of the house is difficult. Keep the vet’s phone number handy and ask about emergency and after-hours numbers where he or she can be reached in case of an accident or illness. Seniors should also know the contact information of nearby emergency veterinary centers for serious issues that their regular vet cannot handle.
Look for programs that are mutually beneficial
There are many programs and services across the U.S. that benefit both seniors and their pets. Older adults wishing to maintain their companion should do some research to find out which ones might be available. Programs like Meals On Wheels, which helps seniors get healthy meals each day and allows them to provide for their pet as well, are available in almost every major metropolitan area and their outskirts. Another option are local church groups that pair elderly parishioners up with younger members. These tweens and teens may serve as a companion for their elderly friend and also provide an outlet for play for the pup.
Animals can be wonderful companions for seniors and can provide a level of comfort that is unmatched, especially for those who are living with a chronic illness or pain. But they require a little extra consideration from seniors who can’t manage the active lifestyle a dog needs to be happy and healthy.