According to a 2005 study conducted by the Department of Neurosciences at the University of Padua, Italy, elderly citizens who were constantly surrounded or visited by a pet animal showed an improvement in their “psychopathological status and perception of quality of life”. In other words, they were happier people. Whether your elderly parent lives at home or in an elderly residence, a pet visit might be a great addition to their daily routine. Not only will they provide companionship for your elderly parent, but serve as a reminder of the joys of life.
There are a few options available to those interested in bringing a pet home for Mom or Dad.
The essential detail to remember is that the pet must be well taken care of. This is one of the first things to consider when choosing a live-in pet.
Second is the kind of pet your parent will enjoy more. Pets for the elderly are only limited by the imagination. Is Mom or Dad a bird lover? Maybe a canary or a parakeet? Are they relatively young and have always dreamed of a pig?
Dogs are very popular-will someone be there to bath, walk and generally clean up after the dog all the time? Or is an older, semi-independent trained cat better? If physical interaction proves too much for your parents, what about fish? They are relatively low care animals.
Several programs also bring visiting animals to senior homes across the country, in order to provide pet therapy.
http://www.petpartners.org/ : Pet Partners both coordinates volunteers and programs offering visiting animals for seniors. They are a good resource to have if one is interested in starting such a program or finding out if one exists in your neighborhood
http://www.dogplay.com/Activities/Therapy/t_groups.html: Dog Play offers general information on programs that exist across the country. For New York, they list six different programs involved in pet therapy. Hudson Valley Visiting Pets (http://hudsonvalleyvisitingpets.com/) is a great one to check out for tri-state residents, as is the ASPCA (http://www.aspca.org/nyc/aspca-animal-assisted-therapy-programso) for city residents.
Either of the options listed above are sure to bring joy to your elderly parent. Check it out today.