Elderly adults in care facilities can experience a range of emotions, including depression and loneliness. Luckily, a furry friend may help a senior by providing companionship and assistance with daily activities.
Benefits of Service Dogs
Dogs don’t only make for great pets but can sense human emotions and can provide love and affection to those in need. Even petting a dog releases oxytocin, which contributes to happy feelings.
How Do Service Dogs Help Seniors?
Specifically, service dogs can help with the following tasks:
- Picking up dropped objects
- Alerting hearing-impaired seniors to sounds, such as smoke alarms
- Bringing an emergency phone to the owner
- Keeping away strangers
- Waking up the owner
- Turning on lights
- Providing directions to a safe walking path
- Benefits For Dementia Patients
Dogs can read and respond to people’s impulses and emotions, making them perfect for dementia patients and their needs. Service dogs can help dementia patients by:
- Carrying a GPS locator in their collar to help families find a lost loved one and in turn, help guide the owner home
- Assisting with daily tasks such as waking up and providing reminders about medications and eating
- Evoking memories and reminiscing
- Helping them stick to a routine
- Improving socialization and offering a conversation starter
- Keeping the dementia patient from walking out of their home alone
Are little dogs better?
In this case, size matters! It’s crucial that you pick the best dog to support you during your golden years. Let’s admit it; your energy levels are not quite as high when you hit a certain age due to health history. Dogs are known for their, often, high energy levels so choosing a small dog rather than a large one is the way to go…sike! Many small dog breeds have tons of energy! Much like your own health history, it’s essential you choose a dog that is in good health as most retirees are on a fixed income and attending to a dog’s health can be costly. Your canine’s health records can indicate any pre-existing health issues your dog might have, but that does not mean your cute companion cannot develop any problems in the future. When searching for your perfect “pup match,” make sure its kid-tolerant and easy going, especially if you expect frequent visits from your grandchildren.
It’s highly suggested that you get an adult dog. Owning an older dog means you get to bypass all of those “first” experiences. You are likely to have a better understanding of its health background, personality, and will get to skip the difficulties and costs of raising a puppy. Before resorting to purchasing a dog from a breeder, be sure to visit your local shelters and rescue groups. Mixed breeds are known to have fewer health issues than purebreds. If you are set on getting one of many purebred dogs, make sure you research a reputable breeder, as you could end up with a dog with health problems or poor social skills. (Unknowingly, you could be in support of puppy mills if you do not correctly search your breeder.)
What Breeds Are the Best Choices for Seniors?
Martha Stewart’s got one so why shouldn’t you? Frenchies are known to be small breed with style, an extra spark, and a set disposition. French bulldogs are known to be a brachycephalic breed which often comes packaged with health problems to match. What does this mean? Well, Frenchies are known to have flat faces which affect their respiratory systems. Some even undergo surgery to persevere. By choosing a well-researched breeder, you will not inherit quite as many health issues.
If you end up with a healthy French Bulldog, you are golden! This companion dog is not known to be the most athletic, due to their health problems, but if you feed them right you have a great companion to walk with! If you’re a light sleeper, it might take a few days to get used to their snoring problems, but much like people, dogs have flaws! A Frenchie’s overall cuteness makes up for this little roadblock.
Who doesn’t love a big puff of fur? Poodles have remained a favorite breed for many decades, now. Equip with a great sense of humor (they aren’t laughing at you, but with you. Promise!), personable, and very easy to train. Known to be hypoallergenic, Poodles require low-maintenance as long as they get a regular brushing and go to the beauty parlor for a monthly grooming appointment.
Popular among people who love tiny dogs is the Toy Poodle. If you are avid of long walks, a Miniature Poodle might be more fitting, as they are sturdier and have more energy for long, daily walks. Looking to turn your dog in master or tricks? You’re in luck with the Poodle breed!
Long live the Schipperke! Really though, this breed has dates back to 1888. Sporting a maintainable coat of hair and adorable round eyes they are always ready for an adventure! This breed is a great choice and down for activities, especially ones that involve water as the Schipperke was bred for to live on ships in Belgium. Just don’t forget its life preserver!
Warning, these little cuties are fast! So be sure to keep them on a leash as the Schipperke is a lover of chasing squirrels, and is not afraid to show the little rodents how fast their speed compares.
If you are looking for a less shedding, tiny dog, go with a Maltese. The Maltese is often seen on the show floor with long-flowing hair, but if you keep them clipped short a Maltese is a perfect fit for anyone!
Looking for a lap dog? The Maltese is for you then! Much like like the Havanese, Bolognese, Coton de Tuelar, and Bichon Frise in its general dog family, the Maltese was developed to be lap dogs and companions solely. The Maltese and the previously mentioned related breeds are known to be tuned in and attentive to their humans. Standing as one of the smallest listed kinds, Malteses are by far the most fragile and portable.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis
If your life consists of daily exercise, then the Pembroke Welsh Corgi might be the best fit for you. They are smart, strong-willed, and determined! Did you know Queen Elizabeth, of England, owned a Corgi? That’s right! A dog fit to make anyone feel like royalty.
Held back by their little legs, they are not capable of quite as many activities. Unaware of the issue, Corgis are more susceptible to getting hurt. Mainly, they think they are superheroes and can do anything they put their minds to! Having bed and couch stairs handy is vital as their little legs prevent them from jumping as high they think they’re capable of. Don’t let their small legs fool you though. Corgis are not lightweight, so be sure to keep them on a well-balanced diet.
As some general suggestions, be sure to do your research and determine dog ownership that best fits your lifestyle and circumstances. Everyone ages differently and have different living expectations, so live within your means and standards. Just because you have ailments doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a Golden Retriever or German Shepard to take hiking at age 70. They are great dogs to own! If you are an active senior and able to tend to a larger dog, then you should go for it! But most of us will probably be happier with a smaller, less demanding dog to keep us company in the final decades of a dog-loving life.
In need of an at-home care specialist to join in on the dog fun? Contact Comfort Keepers® Home Care in Springfield, PA to learn more about your senior care options. Our caregivers are dedicated to providing exceptional assisted living services to you or a loved one. Feel free to contact us at 610-643-4242 for more information.