Dogs can be a number of different things, from beloved companions and fierce protectors to annoying nuisances. When people commit their time and money to their dogs, they can be well-behaved and a real asset to their lives. With lack of attention and disinterest, dogs can become unhappy and misbehave to get attention. The pros and cons of having a dog need to be carefully weighed when family caregivers and elderly loved ones are thinking about adopting.
Dogs Can Benefit Seniors
Many seniors have a desire to get a dog as they age, and there are certainly plenty of good reasons. Companionship animals are an excellent way to fight off loneliness and isolation, because seniors can interact with their dog as well as other people. Dogs encourage elderly loved ones to get into a routine of regular care, walks, grooming and vet visits. Sometimes, seniors feel a lack of motivation after a lifetime of a career and caring for others. Owning a dog gives them a sense of purpose and enriches their lives in multiple ways.
The health benefits of owning a dog cannot be overlooked when it comes to elderly loved ones. Studies show that dog owners are usually in better shape thanks to regular exercise from walking their pet. Seniors with dogs are also less likely to have high blood pressure, stress, depression and anxiety. Dogs encourage elderly loved ones to get involved in daily life instead of indulging in isolation and loneliness.
Downside of Owning a Dog
As wonderful as owning a dog can be, there is definitely a downside to it. Dogs take a lot of time to properly care for, from training and exercising to grooming and medical visits. Many seniors that are receiving elderly care are already somewhat limited in what they can do in their day-to-day lives. Owning a dog may not be something they can devote themselves to due to age-related conditions, illnesses, or mental health. Of course, family caregivers also need to be realistic and think about their loved one’s condition in the future—even if they can manage dog care now, what does the short-term and long-term future hold?
Getting a dog for an aging loved one can also put more stress on a family caregiver who is already devoting time and energy to caring for their relative. Sometimes adding pet responsibility to caregiving duties can make an already full schedule even more stressful. Dogs that don’t get the time and attention they need can misbehave in an effort to get attention or to work out excess energy. This can cause tension and stress between the dog and its owner, making things worse instead of better. Family caregivers also need to think about what would happen to the dog should they or their aging loved one no longer be able to care for it.
Each situation with an aging loved one and a family caregiver is different, and hopefully any senior that wants a dog and can care for it would get one for the companionship and health benefits. However, knowing that dog ownership requires a lifetime of commitment, it’s a decision that should not be made in the spur of the moment, but only after a careful assessment of the pros and cons.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elderly care in Sunnyvale, CA, please contact the caring staff at Bay Area Home Care. Call today 650-938-4031.