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All About Pets and Seniors

When caregiving for a senior, the thought of caring for a pet as well can be overwhelming. However, pets and pet therapy can offer significant benefits to seniors.

Animal-loving seniors can benefit from having a pet or receiving pet therapy. Although it may present challenges, many believe the benefits outweigh the risks and challenges.

Planning for Senior Pet Care

If a senior who is in need of caregiving has a pet or is considering getting a pet, there are many factors that need to be considered. Seniors and their caregivers should ask the following when determining whether to get or keep a pet in this season of life:

  • What animal and/or breed is the most low-maintenance and easy-going?
  • What assistance will the senior need to care for the pet?
  • Could the animal pose a serious threat to senior safety?
  • Is it possible for the pet to belong to a loved one and simply visit regularly?
  • What happens to the pet if the senior cannot care for it any longer?
  • Can this pet live with the senior in a facility if the senior must move?

Many seniors with pets hire caregivers to help groom and exercise animals as well as to transport the animal to the veterinarian.

(Forbes)

Top Pets for Seniors

Dogs

  • Poodle
  • French Bulldog
  • Schipperke
  • Maltese
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Cats

  • Birman
  • Ragdoll
  • Russian Blue
  • British Shorthair
  • Persian

(Vet Street; Cat-World)

Top Tips for Helping Seniors Choose Pets Wisely

  • Talk to a vet or a pet adoption specialist to identify an animal that is a good match for a senior
  • Choose a pet that weighs under 20 pounds (many pet-friendly senior facilities have weight limits)
  • Set up the home so that the pet can access an area to relieve themselves independently
  • Choose food and water dishes with automatic dispensing so care is lower-maintenance
  • Socialize the pet with friends and loved ones in case the pet needs to move to a new home
  • Adopt a pet that is mature and that has already been trained
  • Arrange for assistance with pet care in case a senior needs help

(Petful)

Benefits of Pet Interaction for Seniors

Interacting with a pet can help seniors:

  • Gain companionship
  •  Deal with stress
  •  Use less medication
  •  Experience lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  •  Recovery from injury or surgery faster
  •  Stay active
  •  Be more sociable
  •  Avoid depression and loneliness
  •  Feel comforted and calm

(Caring People Inc)

Why Pet Therapy is Wise

Some seniors are simply not able to have their own pets. If they are an animal lover, that can be distressing. Pet therapy is a wise alternative to owning a pet. The benefits of pet therapy are diverse, affecting both physical and mental health for the better.

Pet therapy is offered in many senior living communities and facilities. Often, pet therapy groups also visit hospitals and senior centres. Some pet therapists will bring their furry helpers to individual’s homes as well.

(A Place for Mom)

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.
Ted Wolfendale