Should A Very Old Person Get a New Pet

Question: Dear Luise: I am writing this question about very old people getting pets for my great grandmother because she would like some advice. She lives in a senior community where she has a cottage, gets all her own meals and takes care of herself. She’s a widow. Until recently she had a great little dog that kept her company. She has to use a walker to get around but believe it or not, she walked Mandy regularly in all kinds of weather. She took really good care of her but Mandy died of old age last year. The problem is, since my great gran is in her nineties, she is being advised by her friends and family not to get another dog. She doesn’t buy her dogs… they come from a shelter where their number is usually up if no one adopts them. The place she lives has no problem with her having another one. Why should she be penalized for her age? Can you give this some thought? Hallie

Answer: Dear Hallie: Well, aren’t you the one? Your great grandmother doesn’t have all bad luck. She has you! And you are a powerful advocate!

There are many reasons for suggesting that a senior-senior not have a pet. Pets sometimes get neglected when memory fades, as it often does eventually. Pets can make messes that aren’t seen or smelled because eyesight starts to fade for some, as well as the sense of smell. They can be yappy and the sound can be held as minimal by someone who’s hearing isn’t what it once was. Family members might fear that the pet will get underfoot and cause a fall or trip up the owner when being walked on a leash.

Beyond those concerns, which may be realistic in some cases, some family members may fear they will inherit the pet when the senior passes and use all of the above as an excuse to not have to face that eventuality.

I would be much more interested in what the management of the senior community says, and in this case it sounds like a definite green light. They know your great gran and probably have a better overview of her abilities than her family members do. Usually they take a pet-deposit to cover any damage, as well.

So where’s the risk? If she passes and no one wants the pup, the shelter may again be the required solution but in the meantime two souls have kept each other company and brought each other love. It’s a well-documented fact that seniors with pets live longer. I say go for it! And I would strongly suspect the motives of anyone who says otherwise. Blessings, Luise

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