Companionship is one thing often missing in an elderly parent’s life. Pets can fill a void and add other benefits to their lives as well.

Elderly parents reap the benefits when they have a pet in their lives

Elderly parents reap the benefits when they have a pet in their lives

Author: Anne Bogardus, Founder and former caregiver

Note: This information is provided for educational and information purposes only. It is not medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for specific questions.

Isolation is often a fact of life for the elderly. Physical limitations can make it difficult to get out of the house and enjoy activities that used to be a part of their lives. Isolation can also lead to loneliness—especially when family and friends don’t live nearby.

Much research has been done on the benefits a pet can bring to an elder, including improved cognitive ability and physical benefits.

As Barbara Ballinger writes on

“Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld, who brings her golden retriever mix Sandee to her New York City office, has even witnessed her ability to rev up elder owners’ memories. ‘I’ve seen those with memory loss interact and access memories from long ago,’ she says. ‘Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.’

Pets benefit, too, particularly when older folks adopt older pets. ‘These lucky pets go from the pound to paradise. Since most of the adopters are retired, they have lots of time to devote to a previously unwanted pet,’ says Chicago veterinarian Tony Kremer, who with his wife Meg operates Help Save Pets—Humane Society, which operates adoption centers.”

As a dog-lover myself, there’s nothing quite like coming home to a dog whose excitement to see you is unabashedly expressed with tail-wagging, running in circles, and, of course, face licks. (Of course, that may not be appealing to non-dog lovers. 😉 )

Read Barbara’s complete article for advice on finding a pet that fits the lifestyle and abilities of an elderly parent and where to find a pet that meets those specific needs.