Seniors and Pets

By: Janet Pomeroy, MSW

It is no secret that owning and caring for a pet can bring huge benefits to our lives. Research presented on Aging Care's website shows us the many benefits of being a “pet parent” such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and easing loneliness.  When seniors have pets, these benefits can play an even larger role in preserving their health, increasing opportunities for exercise and social opportunities and helping to build a routine and ease isolation after retirement or loss of a spouse.

Caring for a pet helps us maintain a morning and evening routine, gives us a reason to take a walk we might otherwise skip, and creates a mutual relationship of unconditional love and caring. Owning a pet has helped many people heal from an illness more quickly and eased grief from loss of a relationship or a death.

Unfortunately, a day comes when caring for a pet becomes too much for an aging or ill relative and the risks of caring for a pet out weight the benefits.  As aging pet owners begin to have mobility or balance issues, having a cat at your feet, running after a runaway dog and getting tangled up in a leash, can lead to a fall and life changing injuries. Caring for a sick pet and the related costs at the vet’s office can bring fatigue and stress to those living on a fixed budget. Even the best of pets have accidents in the home, but when their owner’s eye sight and sense of smell are dwindling, seniors are more at risk of slipping on pet urine, or not realizing carpet and furniture have an odor. If a pet begins to miss checkups, looks neglected, is too thin or too heavy, it can indicate that their elderly owner is having trouble with their memory.

Dog walkers, neighbors and family, and house cleaning services can assist seniors keep their pet at home for as long as possible but so if a senior is not able to keep up with a pets care, they likely may need some increased help with their own day to day needs in the home as well. A little help can go a long way in keeping seniors and their pets safe and happy at home together!

Janet Pomeroy, MSW
Janet Pomeroy, MSW

Janet has over 15 years of experience as a Medical Social Worker, assisting clients and facilities with their medical, social and care needs. Janet earned her Master's in Social Work from University of Georgia and offers a comforting and supportive style when working with her clients. She is able to find creative solutions and resources to challenging situations, with a focus on increasing a sense of wellness, reducing stress and honoring each individual's unique life journey.

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Published on November 15, 2018.