Loneliness and isolation are commonly experienced by many older adults. There’s numerous ways to help alleviate this, but have you ever thought about getting your parent a cat as a companion? Keep reading to learn why this could be an option worth exploring.
Benefits of Cat Ownership for Older Adults
Bringing a cat into your parent’s life can have many benefits. Cats provide affection, entertainment and even someone to talk to! This source of affection and companionship can help improve the mood of older adults and help with feelings of depression and loneliness. Studies have even shown that interaction with cats can have physical benefits such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
After a lifetime of caring for children, grandchildren and family, cats can renew your parent’s sense of purpose by having someone to care for again. The routine of caring for a cat (such as feeding and cleaning the litter box) brings a routine into your parent’s day, a reason to move around the house, and important mental stimulation. Cats don’t require as much care as other animals, but what do they require is just enough to get your parent’s body and mind working to help their wellbeing.
What to Consider Before Buying a Cat
If you are considering a cat as a companion for an aging parent or family member, consider these things before making a decision.
- Is your parent allowed to have a cat where they currently live? If you anticipate a move in the future, whether to downsize or to a care facility, could the cat come with them?
- Consider if your parent can care for the cat on a daily basis; can they remember to feed it? Can they spot signs the cat is not well and call the vet?
- If your parent is unable to independently care for the cat, who will help?
- If your parent has limitations with their mobility or transportation, how will they get food and supplies? How will the cat get to the vet?
- Who can look after the cat for a short duration, such as if your parent has a hospital stay or goes on vacation?
- Who will take ownership of the cat if it outlives your parent, or if they are no longer able to care for it?
If you do decide to get a cat for your parent, consider adopting an adult cat. There are many in need of loving homes, they will be quieter than a kitten, and as they are already grown it will be easier to see if their temperament and habits will be suited to living with your parent. As long as you’ve thought about these questions and made the right arrangements, a cat can be a wonderful companion for your parent as they age, and have a positive impact on their mental and physical health.
If a family member is in need of companionship, an in-home caregiver could help. Call (289) 434-4704 to learn about our caregiving services available in St. Catharines and throughout the Niagara region.