Loneliness in Old Age: Could a Pet Help?
Loneliness is one of the things that elderly people often suffer from. Sometimes elderly people are unable to get out of the house due to mobility issues, or they may not have any friends living nearby. And even if you make the effort to visit them regularly, they may still get lonely.
A pet can often be a great solution to loneliness because it can provide wonderful companionship. But there are a number of things to consider before you get a pet.
Benefits of Having a Pet
One of the main reasons to get a pet is for the companionship it provides. Simply having a pet around can help to reduce loneliness and the simple act of stroking a cat or dog can also relieve stress. If you get a dog, this can also become a good source of activity for your elderly relative. Grooming, going for walks and playing at home can all help to keep your relative active.
A pet can also provide elderly people with a sense of purpose. Suddenly they are caring for the pet, rather than simply being cared for by other people, and this can be a good boost to their confidence and self-esteem.
Can Your Elderly Relative Look After a Pet?
Even though they may like the idea of having a pet, your relative may not be capable of looking after one alone – especially a dog. Dogs can provide excellent companionship, but they also require a lot of work, whereas cats often require less work. It really depends on their situation, so have at think about how realistic the prospect is before making any decisions.
Care Workers Could Help Care for the Pet
If your relative really likes the idea of having a pet, but you don’t think they can look after one yourself, this could be something your care worker can help with. Care workers can help to feed pets and they could accompany your relative walking their dog to make things easier.
Other Pet Help
You could also hire a dog walker to help out, or a pet sitter if your relative has to go to hospital or will be away for a long time. You may want to commit to walking the dog or grooming it yourself, and you may have to help to take it to the vet. You may also have to provide financial support.
Consider a Rescue Dog or Cat
One option could be to get a rescue dog or cat. These animals are in need of love and care, and you can also find out exactly what their temperament is beforehand so you can find a pet that is more suitable for your relative. This also takes out some of the work of looking after puppies and kittens.
Get Assistance from The Cinnamon Trust
The Cinnamon Trust is a UK charity dedicated to helping elderly people and their pets. It has 15,000 community service volunteers all over the UK, providing practical help for walking dogs and other issues. It even has a fostering service when owners have to spend time in hospital, and it provides care should the owner pass away. Contact them for any advice you need before making your decision.
A Pet Can Be a Wonderful Idea
Bring up the idea of getting a pet with your elderly relative if you think it could be a good option for them. Or perhaps your relative has already mentioned getting a dog or cat. Think practically about it, and go over the pros and cons to decide whether it really is the best option. But if you think it can work for you, it can be a great help.