Understanding why elderly pet owners develop deep and meaningful relationships with their pets is clear – pets provide essential elements of unconditional love and companionship for seniors. For these reasons, family members may choose to give a pet to their aging parents during the holiday season. A pet in the elderly household does more than lift spirits, they provide a motivation to be needed, to feel touch, be emotionally close to and to have someone to talk to.
Pets are often a much-needed stimulus for seniors to stay healthy while maintaining a responsible role in caring for their furry friend, according to Pernille Ostberg, MBA, RPh, president and CEO of Matrix Home Care. “However, we encourage the gift-giver to make certain the pet is well-trained so they can be an asset in a senior’s home, not a liability,” she said.
Kat Macenas, co-owner of Leader of the Pack canine services in Delray Beach, Florida, specializes in behavioral training for dogs and cautions that elderly pet owners need to understand their limits. “A smaller dog that needs less care is better suited for a senior, because the owner may not be able to do it all,” she said.
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