Pets make excellent companions for older adults who live alone, but keeping a pet healthy requires feeding it, walking it and treating it humanely.
Pets may suffer from neglect because their owners are unable to care for them properly. When a pet owner is sick or not physically able to care for a pet, the animal may suffer. An adult who receives at home care could ask the caregiver to assist with care for a pet. However, this arrangement must be agreed upon by the caregiver and the employing agency. This is why it’s important to assess whether an aging parent who lives alone is able to care for a pet.
If you are the child of an aging parent who has a pet, you should assess whether the pet can be cared for easily. If your parent has a large dog that requires a lot of food and needs to be walked several times a day, maybe it is time to get smaller pet such as a cat or bird. These pets eat smaller amounts of food and do not require walking. However, cats require litter boxes and bird cages need to be cleaned regularly, so even small pets can be a burden on a person who is unable to attend to these tasks.
Feeding pets regularly can be an issue for an older adult due to the cost of pet food. An older adult on a fixed income may not be able to afford the quality or amount of pet food needed to keep a pet healthy. Helping an older parent purchase pet food will ensure that a pet is well fed.
Dogs need to be walked regularly. As the child of an aging parent, consider hiring a dog walker. Check references to hire the most trustworthy individual who will treat your parent and his or her pet with respect.