Do you want to get a pet for your senior parents but are dreading that they might not be able to take care of it? We will share some ideas on helping senior parents care for pets in the guide below.
Your senior parents may feel lonely and isolated after they retire. The loneliness gets even more compounded when they lose their significant others.
Having a pet is one way in which parents can live richer, fuller lives and have the companionship they need to ward off loneliness and isolation. However, keeping a pet is a major commitment.
Thankfully there are many things you can do to make the ownership of a pet more manageable and rewarding for your senior parent. In this guide, we will give you information that will help you in helping senior parents care for pets.
Having Pets Helps With Loneliness
Loneliness is very common among the elderly. Studies show that one in three people above forty-five feels lonely. Loneliness is sometimes a trigger for isolation. Your parents may start cutting off from the outside world and always want to stay indoors.
One source of companionship that can provide bundles of joy to your senior parents has a pet. Owning a pet helps in alleviating stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Pets can bring about a tremendous transformation in the life of your senior parents.
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Why Taking In a Pet Could Be Challenging For Older People
However, taking care of pets can be challenging. Physically speaking, taking your pets out for walks, making sure they are fed on time, bathed, are receiving physical exercise, and other activities can take a lot out of a senior person.
Secondly, in monetary terms, median incomes in the elderly are typically much lower after retirement, so the financial burden of taking care of a pet (including food, vaccinations, visits to the vet, pet accessories, etc.) can sometimes be a deal-breaker.
Helping Senior Parents Care For Pets
#1. Helping Them Choose The Right Pet
The first thing that you can help with is helping your senior parents choose the right pet for them.
Consider this: 35% of people above the age of 70 years have mobility issues. Now you might think that your parents can walk without support. But this may not always be the case. With age, mobility is bound to decline, whereas the physical commitment towards keeping certain pets like dogs will not go away.
House cats are one of the best options for pets because your senior parents don’t need to take them out for a daily walk. House cats are also very clean animals (they love licking themselves), making it easier to take care of them.
If your parents want to remain active and are battling loneliness, then dogs are one of the best pets in the world. Not only are dogs great for playing with, but they also are fiercely loyal, keep you safe, and love unconditionally.
For those people who are arthritic or don’t have much space in their house for a pet, fish, guinea pigs, parakeets, turtles, and hamsters are also an excellent option. These pets do not need any kind of physical effort from the pet parent to maintain them. You might need to clean the cage/aquarium every few days, but that’s about it.
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#2. Hiring Help
If your parents want companionship but are afraid that they will not be able to take care of the pet all the time, you should consider hiring a pet caretaker for them.
Now keep in mind that pet sitting is quite expensive. It can cost you anywhere between $25 to $30 a day, and night pet sitting rates may go double or even higher.
Another way that you can help is by dividing up the work between you, your parents’ neighbors, other family members and friends. All of you can come together as your senior parents’ support team and take care of small aspects of pet care.
#3. Choosing an Assisted Living
If your senior parents have to move to an assisted living facility, you can help them by choosing housing to keep pets. Very few assisted living facilities to allow pets, and there are other restrictions related to size, weight, and the number of pets your parents can keep.
Doing this research and talking to members living there will help your parents choose the right facility where they can keep their pets in peace.
Assisted living facilities have one major benefit for pet care; the pet will be surrounded by many people who can help in some way in caring for them.
#4. Taking The Pet To Veterinary Doctor
Most older adults may find it challenging to take their pet to the vet if it has any health issues. You can take up this responsibility and either take the pet to the vet yourself or find a vet who can do home visits.
Keep in mind that this also means you need to keep a regular tab on the pet’s health, and you need to make sure that they get their vet visits on a timely basis.
#5. Take The Help Of Organization
If you find it difficult to devote time towards helping your parents take care of their pets yourself, you can help them get in touch with various organizations that provide pet care assistance to older adults.
These organizations help in providing food, and some even offer primary veterinary care to them. You have to contact the volunteers, and the volunteers will deliver the food to the home of the older adults.
#6. Consider Buying A Pet Ramp
If your senior parents like to cuddle their pets on the bed, you need to purchase a pet ramp, which will reduce the possibility of falls and injury.
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#7. Visit Each Week
Forgetfulness is a part of aging. When a person gets older various changes to occur in the body parts, including the brain. Most older adults struggle with memory even if they are fit physically.
Forgetfulness or memory loss can become a big problem when taking care of pets. For instance, they might overfeed or underfeed their pet.
Similar is the case with medicines. They may forget to give essential medication to their pet, or sometimes they provide overdose medicine to their pet, which hampers the animal’s health.
You can help them with this problem by paying weekly visits to their house. You can measure the amount of food and medication taken by the pet every day and put them in seven containers labeled for each day of the week.
You can also invest in automated pet feeders to make things easier for your senior parents.
#8. Arrange The Food
A lot of older people have trouble bending down due to joint, muscle, and bone issues. If your parents have dogs or cats in the house, you should find a place to keep their feeders and litter boxes at a certain height so your parents can reach them comfortably.
Another option is to buy an elevated feeder, which will help your senior parents to feed the pet properly.
Often dog food and cat food packs are difficult to open. You can either purchase pet food that comes in frustration-free packaging or else pour it out into easy-to-open containers.
#9. Get A Pet Tracker
Many elderly parents allow their pets to roam around the neighborhood or backyard. It’s pretty difficult for them to watch their activities or location constantly.
So investing in a pet tracker with GPS tracking ability might be a good idea. It helps an elderly parent to locate the exact position of the pet.
#10. Home Modifications
You can make a few modifications at your home to make caring for pets easier for your elderly parents. For instance, If you have a fence in your backyard, you can make a door for the pet so that your parents don’t have to keep opening and to close the door for the pet.
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What To Do With Your Parents’ Pet?
While every pet owner would love to keep their pet with them for their entire lifetime, sometimes situations may cause your elderly parents to have to give up their pet.
While people think that the family caregiver will be the natural owner of the pet, in this case, many times, caregivers do not want pets. It’s also possible that the pet has not been trained properly and is therefore difficult to care for by anybody.
In such cases, rehoming your parent’s pet is the best idea. However, separating pets from the owner can be emotionally tough on both parties. Here are some tips on what you can do to rehome your parents’ pet.
#1. Convince Your Parents To Give Up The Pet
You should first ask the owner, i.e., your parents, if they want to give their pet up. Sometimes it might take a while to convince them, but you need to keep reminding them that this is for the benefit of the pet, and it will find a new home where the pet parent can take better care of the animal.
If they permit you, you should start searching for a good rescue group or talk with a veterinary doctor or your friends and relatives.
#2. Check If Anyone In Your Circle Wishes To Adopt The Pet
You can also ask near and dear ones who are willing to give the pet a new home. The person regularly interacting with a pet will take better care because he is familiar with the behavior, personality, and daily routine.
#3. Talk To Veterinary Doctor
Veterinary doctors have many resources, and they can help you to rehome your pet. No-kill shelters are a good option to temporarily rehome your senior parents’ pets until a loving family adopts them.
Apart from talking to your vet, many animal rescue organizations will help you find a new home for the pet.
#4. Don’t Allow For Fast Transition
Your primary goal should be to help the animal and the new owner becomes familiar with each other.
You can allow the new owner to come one or two days a week and take the pet for a brisk walk, play for some time with the pet, or feed the animal. Small steps will be easier both for the animal and your senior parents than abrupt changes.
#5. Rehomed Pets Will Not Go Forever
You need to discuss the possibility of your senior parent visiting and spending some quality time with the pet with the new owner. Even a monthly visit will work wonders for both parties.
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Pets help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase physical activity in senior parents. But taking care of pets is a long-term and physically, and financially demanding commitment.
There are many ways to chip in to help with the upkeep of your senior parents’ pet. We have outlined some of these means just to give you things to think about.
Sometimes, however, things may not work out. You might have to consider rehoming your parents’ pet, and we have added some thoughts on how you can do this gradually so that both your parents and their pets will not feel the pangs of separation.
I hope this article has given you the information that you were looking for. Please share your ideas, tips, and tricks on how you are helping your senior parents take care of their pets.
If you have more queries and questions, feel free to add them to the comments box, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. And as always, if you love the content, share it with others looking for similar information!