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Pets and the Elderly

Here at Comfort Keepers, our staff love their pets. If you are like us and have pets at home or just have a love for animals big and small then you will enjoy this post.

We all know that pets are great company, they give us unconditional love no matter the day or their mood.  If you have a dog at home you will know that no matter how many times you leave your house and come back again that he will welcome you each time. Pets can also be very comforting for us in times of distress and loneliness. They give us their love and expect nothing in return.

This blog is dedicated to pets and the elderly, what are the advantages and disadvantages for an elderly person having a pet. What are the factors you need to think about when choosing a pet for an elderly person and what type of pet is most suitable? All of these questions will be discussed and answered throughout.

1. What are the advantages for an older person having a pet?

Pets give us love and company. They can be a great distraction for older people. Sometimes older people can feel quite lonely especially if they live alone. By having a pet they have some company and it also keeps their minds busy, as some pets need a lot of care and attention. There are also the physical advantages, for older people who are still somewhat active, having a dog can be great for getting them out of the house and taking part in some physical activities such as a walk in the park. Not only is this a chance to keep active but it can also be chance to socially interact with other dog walkers.

2. What are the disadvantages for an older person having a pet?

Pets have their advantages but also have their disadvantages. For instance cats can easily trip people up as they can walk in front of people and between their legs. Older people need to be very careful with cats as they can easily cause an accident. Pets can also be quite expensive so the financial aspect of owning a pet needs to be taken into consideration. Also, the size of the pet and the maintenance level are equally important. If the pet requires lots of exercise and attention and the older person is quite immobile then this wouldn’t be practical.

3. What types of pets are suitable for an older person?

Not all older people are frail and inactive. Therefore it is important to choose a pet that matches the pace of the person. For older people who are quite frail and are not active, a cat may be more suitable as they require low maintenance. For a more active and independent older person then a dog may be suitable, this way they can go walking with the dog and will have energy for playing with them.

4. Factors to consider when choosing a pet for an older person:

  • Age of pet: The age of the pet is very important. A puppy may require a lot of work, for example toilet training and chewing. An older dog may be more suitable for an older person as they are usually already house trained and have grown out of the chewing phase.
  • Active Ability: The active ability of the pet also needs to be taken into consideration. Will the pet need a lot of exercise? Therefore you need to choose a pet that suits the active ability of the older person.
  • Behavioural Issues: Sometimes pets you adopt have had a difficult previous life. You need to think if they have behavioural issues, will this cause a problem for the older person?
  • Health Factors: For example some dogs are prone to certain ailments. If the pet is prone to ailments and needs to be brought to the vet quite frequently then this can result in being very costly.
  • Temperament: Temperament is very important, you need to choose a pet with the right temperament to match the older person’s. If a dog for example is aggressive or hyper, they may not be suitable for an older person. However pets who are quiet, have a nice temperament and are not too active may be the perfect choice.

You should consider all of the above when choosing the perfect pet for an older person. Pets are great company but they can also involve a lot of work and this sometimes may be unmanageable for some older people. Please take all factors into consideration and remember pets are not just for Christmas, they are for life.

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