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Studies have shown that the companionship of a pet can greatly enhance the quality of life for senior citizens. At Spring Hills assisted living facilities, our caregivers have seen just how much our residents and visitors enjoy our PAW (“Pets Are Welcome”) program and the joy that furry friends bring. If you are a family caregiver for an elderly individual or your loved one has expressed an interest in having a pet, there are a few things to consider to ensure both your loved one and their soon to be beloved friend leads a healthy and happy life together.
Every animal has its own personality and needs, just as humans! These very factors are important to consider when looking for a pet for a senior. After all, compatibility is crucial. A few factors to keep in mind include:
Personality – If your loved one has very low energy levels, an energetic golden retriever that needs a daily walk may not be the best fit. Meanwhile, some breeds have more aggressive personalities, which may make it harder for a senior to relax. Not only do different breeds have different qualities and characteristics, but each individual animal does as well. Make sure you are able to see your loved one and the pet interact in person before committing to taking the pet home.
Age of Animal
Best Types of Animals for Senior Citizens
Because there are so many breeds and temperaments, the best dog for an elderly widow who is fit and active may not be the best dog for a senior at the beginning stages of dementia and experiencing some arthritis. Here are the top 3 good companion dog breeds to consider.
Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, and Yorkshire Terriers are also popular companion dogs. These dogs are small and don’t require much exercise apart from a daily short walk and a bit of indoor play. They can be great lap dogs but their coats do require grooming and they have a tendency to bark. Another factor to consider may be the health of your loved one. For instance, some dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, can be trained to detect a potential epilepsy episode or can serve as trained seeing-eye dogs. Speak with your loved one’s doctor if you feel this may a consideration.
Please remember that these are simply rules-of-thumb. Make sure that you and your loved one can interact with any prospective pet before making the final decision. Have any questions? Contact us – we would be happy to share our recommendations!