How to Pick a Pet for an Older Adult
Studies show that animals can be wonderful companions for older adults—their presence can calm agitation, alleviate loneliness and even lower blood pressure. A family pet can truly be a best friend to an aging adult who lives alone, and pet therapy is a popular approach in long-term care facilities for enriching residents’ lives.
While animals can make wonderful companions, they also require care and must be a good match for their human partner’s personality, functional abilities and financial situation. Use these pointers to ensure a senior is up for pet ownership before matching them with the perfect new furry friend.
Look Beyond the Breed
A dog’s breed can tell you some things about him, but it can’t tell you everything. While people tend to only take looks into account when adopting, the best way to choose a pet is to carefully consider what you’re looking for in terms of personality, size, age, maintenance needs, and energy levels. Typically, the only instances where breed is of utmost importance is if the potential owner needs a “hypoallergenic” dog or one that does not require intensive grooming.
Personality Is Everything
Although dog breeds are often associated with certain temperaments, every dog has a unique personality. “Like humans, dogs are individuals,” says Amy Kracht, Vice President of 4 Luv of Dog Rescue. “It’s important to take the personalities of the dog and the person into account before getting a pet.” Will the senior want an outgoing companion who will keep them company on their daily walks, or more of a lapdog type who is content watching movies on the couch? Think about the potential owner’s average daily routine and consider how an animal would ideally fit into it.
It is important to interact with an animal before taking them home in order to get a good feel for their personality. Some dogs are anxious or aggressive, and some do not get along with strangers, children or other animals. This doesn’t mean that a particular dog is “bad” or will always be difficult, but it could indicate that they’ll need special attention or extensive training to help them socialize and feel more secure. A good rule of thumb…
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “For anyone having to walk the last segments of life with a loved one, read this.” …Delores
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