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Senior Living

Study after study have shown the benefits of older adults having a pet in their home, especially if they live alone. For example, living with a pet is linked to physical benefits like lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and decreased triglyceride levels. Just petting an animal, whether it be a dog or a cat, has been shown to lower anxiety and blood pressure and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, both of which play a role in calmness and wellbeing.

Dog owners are more likely to get the recommended 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which is tied to increased physical fitness and losing weight. At the same time, walking a dog can improve one’s social life, since most dog owners stop to chat with each other.

In addition, a pet gives daily structure and meaning while helping to prevent depression, loneliness, isolation (which are key to staving off cognitive disease). In particular, people with Alzheimer’s seem to have less emotional flare-ups and aggression.

Springpoint at Home’s Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager team has experience in supporting our older clients who own pets. They have done everything from buying pet food to chauffeuring to-and-from vet appointments. But owning a pet is expensive. The average cost to keep a pet is between $700 and $1,200 per year, and that does not include veterinary services if they become ill.

If your elder is a pet owner and living on a fixed income, there are some programs that offer “free money.” Your state veterinary medical association (for New Jersey: may have a list of local organizations that can help, and there are independent nonprofits who offer financial aid for pets. If you live near a veterinary college, they may have clinics for people on a limited income. In addition, the nonprofit Pet Help Finder helps you find veterinary services, food pantry and supplies, and boarding services that can help. You simply select one of those three options in the online search, input in your city, state, and zip code, and a list of providers will appear.

It’s important to consider mobility issues any time there is a pet in the home, and be sure to take steps to reduce the danger of falls. This caution must be taken even if the animal is there for a visit. The Centers for Disease Control has said that there are just over 86,000 falls per year caused by pets, and 88% of them are by dogs. It is also important to consider the potential for falls when walking a dog on a leash. At some point, a beloved pet may be too strong for your elder to safely walk them. If that becomes the case, be aware of the home environment and ensure there is an appropriate place outside the home for the pet to replace walks when they need to take care of business.

Our Springpoint at Home Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers can help you assess your lifestyle and home to determine if continuing to own a pet is a good idea, and what modifications or additional help may be needed. If your elder would benefit from “borrowing” a pet, they can help find a pet therapy animal that will visit in the home.

We recognize the loving bonds between pets and their owners and will support your elder and their beloved pet, helping to keep them in the home as long as possible.

For more information on Springpoint at Home and how we can help, please call 844-724-1777.


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