While caring for a pet can be a rewarding experience for older adults, dogs especially encourage seniors to stay active and socialize with neighbors, it’s a sad fact that most nursing homes don’t allow pets to follow their owners into long-term care. Separation from a treasured animal companion can make the move away from independent living even more stressful and elder pets have greater difficulty finding homes than young animals. A charity out of Nova Scotia, ElderDog Canada, has recently expanded and would like to see programs that place senior pets with second-act homes open chapters across Canada.
According to a recent CBC News report, ElderDog not only places canine companions with new homes when their elderly owners can no longer care for them, the charity also helps older adults care for their dogs, allowing them to keep them at home. Losing a pet can cause very real grief for older adults, especially seniors who live alone, when their sole companion dies. Elderdog provides bereavement support for seniors who have lost a dog.
Families and adults looking for a dog may want to consider adopting an older pet whose original owner can no longer care for them at home. Not only does a senior pet have a tremendous amount of love to give, they are also more likely to be house and walk-trained, and are long past chewing shoes and pulling on the leash.
The bond between animal and human can be very close and studies have shown that pet ownership can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase activity level and encourage social interaction. Caring for a pet gives structure to the day which most people crave; dogs need to be walked and fed at regular times which gives older adults a focus for their lives, improving overall well-being. Caring for an older dog just makes you feel good. Senior animal owners can offer a loving home for a pet and also give elderly owners peace of mind their animal companion will be well cared for and perhaps even visit with them occasionally.
In the United States, there are a number of non-profit sanctuaries and programs that help care for and place homeless senior dogs. Learn more by following this link to dogtime.com . Read more about the studied health benefits seniors can reap from dog ownership here.