Just owning a dog has so many health benefits! They have even done studies that prove that pet owners in general have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels reducing the chances of a heart attack. Many of my peers and I have discovered that in the last decade a lot of senior folks are continuing pet ownership despite their age.
It makes perfect sense. Dogs provide a companionship in a retirement home environment that even frequent visits from family can’t provide. They stave off depression by simply being around and providing hours of enjoyment for their owners.
Pets are also perfect for socialization, meeting friends, and generally “breaking the ice” with strangers. In a retirement home community the dogs attract so much attention from other residents and staff alike frequently the dog owners are well known throughout the building as well. It opens up many social options an older person wouldn’t necessarily stumble into on their own.
They are also great for forcing a bit of exercise onto owners who may otherwise choose a sedentary lifestyle. Dogs have to go potty several times a day and require walks and exercise regularly. The benefit this can have on older people is extraordinary.
That being said the struggle to keep their pup on consistent schedules may eventually become a problem. That is where a dog walking service like Jo Co Barking Club comes into play. We have helped many retirement home residents with pet ownership issues throughout the years.
There is also the memory loss situation that comes up frequently. Many health issues can leave the older owners with memory gaps, loss, confusion that can leave the pet in a precarious situation. They need to be fed regularly and let out on a routine and may have their own pill(s) to take on a daily basis. It is best to either work with a company like ours to have that handled or the nursing staff within the retirement home.
Families should allow their senior members to continue dog ownership if they know it was a constant throughout their lives. I’m sure they can tell the difference when they visit their loved ones. Just make sure that the pet is being well cared for so that both parties benefit from the relationship.
Mandy, the dog pictured above, was with her senior parents for 6 years before both passed on within 6 months of each other. She has now found a new home with one of our staff and is adjusting to life outside the retirement community, but I know that she helped them live whole and satisfying lives in her time with them.