Aside from any serious medical conditions, being lonely is one of the hardest conditions for an elderly person to face. The elderly can feel lonely for many reasons, the largest being becoming a widow. In a situation where an elderly relative loses a spouse, one often does not know what to do.
Elderly people often also feel lonely when they are placed into Elderly Care Facilities, or Nursing Homes. Family members cannot always visit, and it is easy for the elderly to become depressed. Though not all elderly care facilities allow pets, having your family member get a pet is a good idea, whether they live in an assisted living facility or not.
Pets can provide the love and affection that the elderly person needs. Pets can also entertain the elderly and keep them company when their families cannot. Pets can also help keep an elderly person more healthy. The question of what type of pet to get is a difficult one to answer, and it really depends on the person and their personality. However, having a cat over a dog is typically better for an elderly person.
How Cats Can Keep The Elderly Healthier
- Cats need very minimal care, so the elderly person would not have much trouble caring for one
- Cats usually only require litter box clean up, feeding and providing water these tasks get the elderly person up and moving around which can be beneficial to their health
- Caring for a cat also can create a routine that many seniors are lacking. Having such a routine can be mentally stimulating for the elderly person and keep them happier
Why Cats Over Dogs?
Dogs typically require a lot more work than cats do. Dogs need constant attention and often need to go outside to do their business, or go for a walk. Many seniors cannot keep up with these tasks, or it can be dangerous if they take their dog for a walk and get pulled down by the leash if the dog chases after something. Dogs also require a lot more playtime with their owner that requires them to move around.
Cats are perfectly content with staying inside all day and sleeping for most of the day on or around their owners. With them being indoor pets, there is no need to take them outside at all and litter boxes are easy to maintain. Cats also require significantly less playtime from their owners and are also entertained by stationary objects or toys, such as a bell on a string. Therefore, their owner can sit in a chair and wiggle it without doing too much work.
Things to Consider
When helping an elderly family member pick out a pet, there are a few things that need to be kept in mind. Many elderly people believe that getting a younger pet will help “keep them young” but they are actually a lot more work than most elderly people can take on.
Also, if they do pick out a younger pet, arrangements need to be made in the event of their death or moving to a nursing home that does not allow pets. Many animal shelters provide deals for elderly people that are looking to adopt older pets. This helps get the older animals adopted, while providing the elderly person with an animal that will not outlive them by too long. Also something to consider, adopting a pet with too little time and it passes away before the elderly person, can bring that person back to a possible depressed state.
Pets can always cheer someone up, at any age, but for the elderly they can be beneficial to their health and happiness. When helping an elderly family member choose a pet, take into consideration the information above, and help your family member make the right decision on whether or not they would like a cat or a dog.
Lindsay is a writer for WT Johnson, a Dallas Injury Lawyer that has experience in Nursing Home Abuse. Lindsay has never owned a cat, but plans to in the future, because they are adorable.