Senior Pawrtfolio Manager
By Abe Lerner
Mutual Fun for the Elderly and Their Adopted Pets, as They Bond Together
Laura Napoli was at a loss for words. How could this have happened? When Mom & Dad had relocated to the retirement community, Laura was ecstatic. She had envisioned them living in an environment specifically catered to their lifestyle. Interaction with fellow seniors, as well as participation in a variety of activities, had seemed ideal. As their only daughter, Laura felt that she had successfully navigated the ever-tricky transitional phase of senior relocation, providing for their needs, yet affording them the independence that they so desired.
But then the disturbing phone calls began arriving regularly. Boredom had somehow set in, as the daily itinerary no longer appealed to them. Mom & Dad had their fair share of medical issues; stress from having an endless amount of time on their hands with seemingly nothing to do, was wreaking havoc with their already fragile health conditions. Allowing this to persist would be detrimental to their well-being. Laura needed to act quickly.
Networking with friends yielded a handful of suggestions, but the most intriguing idea came from her co-worker Janice. Janice’s Mom, was living alone after her husband had passed away & was still thriving. Raising her dog Mandy seemed to have rejuvenated her, keeping her preoccupied throughout the day tending to her needs. Perhaps, Janice offered, this would work for Laura’s parents as well. Although her parents had never displayed an interest in raising a pet, Laura wondered if conceivably the time was ripe for broaching the topic with them.
Prior to approaching them, she sought the advice of geriatric specialists & the nursing staff at the retirement community. Based on Laura’s research, all arrows pointed in the direction of suggesting to her parents that they adopt a pet. According to an AgingCare.com article written by Barbara Baldinger, both seniors & pets mutually benefit from such a relationship. The pets, especially when having previously lived in a shelter, receive undivided attention from retirees who have an abundance of time to dedicate to their animal companions. Seniors potentially gain when they cast aside their loneliness & depression, as caring for a pet creates a sense of purpose in their daily routine. Dr. Katharine Hillestad, a veterinarian for the retail company Doctors Foster & Smith based in Rhinelander, Wis., adds, that reading up on pet care & their associated needs can also be mentally stimulating for the elderly, which is very beneficial for their mental health. Additionally, owning a pet can distract ailing seniors from concentrating on their own illnesses, shifting the focus of attention to caring for the animal.
But would Mom & Dad agree? Conventional wisdom would indicate that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Laura feared that they’d be resistant to the entire concept…But as with life in general, there are times that you need to step up to the plate utilizing unorthodox methods, to achieve that seemingly unattainable goal. Thankfully for Mom & Dad, their devoted daughter Laura indeed stepped up to the plate. As she predicted, they were initially opposed to having a pet invade their lives. However, after yet another lackluster week at home, they caved, albeit only on a “trial basis.”
Well, pet owners out there definitely know the happy ending to this story. Mom & Dad began cultivating a relationship with Jenna, their recently adopted dog. They nurtured her & became totally engrossed in her day-to-day care. “Poor thing- you were abandoned & relegated to a shelter”, Mom said. “We’ll make you feel right at home, sweetie.” The rest, as they say, is history…Mom & Dad developed into becoming very well adjusted pet parents, & consequently, their overall attitudes & health improved as well. Jenna now had her own Mom & Dad that adored her & took great care of her. An absolutely win-win situation for all!
Oh, what family can do for each other… isn’t it wonderful?
We would love to hear your stories of adopted pets and your elderly loved ones. Please share in our comments section below or post it on our Facebook page. (We want pictures!)
Abe Lerner is a member of the pack at NutralifePet, a division of Nutralife Health Products, Inc., which has been selling high quality dietary supplements since 1996. NutralifePet, the manufacturer of Ultra Joint & Liver Support with SAM-e for dogs and cats, caters to the individual needs of each pet. NutralifePet…caring about animals, one pet at a time…