Mother’s Day was always special for Judy. Her children and grandchildren always thought of something out of the ordinary to make her day brighter. And this May was no exception. Judy lived in an assisted living home with caring, warm staff. They always had wonderful things to chat about each morning when they came to assist her with showering and getting dressed for breakfast. Today, Judy was excited to talk about the outing with her family. Her son and daughter-in-law had picked her up and taken her to a beautiful park for a family picnic. And the grandkids even brought their beloved family dog, Coco along. It had been a while since Judy had a dog herself, and it brought back so many memories. Just watching the dog dance and play on the green grass with so much energy made Judy’s day. She was excited as she told her caregivers about the dog. Coco had even come up to Judy and let her pet him several times. He was so soft and warm, she remembered.
Dogs are special. They can bring so much joy to seniors. There’s a reason that dogs are often used as therapy or service animals. Some say that spending time with a dog can lower stress levels and improve health overall. But many seniors do not feel capable of caring for a pet anymore or fear a dog would outlive them if they were to get one. That’s where family can help. If you have a dog or puppy that is gentle in nature and appropriate with people outside their family, consider taking them along on your next family outing with Grandma. First, make sure your elderly loved one is comfortable around dogs and would enjoy watching the dog play or petting and interacting with him. Here are some considerations for introducing Coco to your senior.
A pet friendly home. Check with your senior’s assisted living or nursing home and find out where pets are allowed. Ask if there is an area outdoors in their senior community or nearby where you could spend some time together with Coco. If not, it’s always possible to take a little outing to a local park or even a pet friendly restaurant. Colorado has many outdoor opportunities and Arvada has a few pet friendly dining options. You can use the Bring Fido app to find the perfect location, including restaurants with outdoor patios welcoming dogs.
If your senior has an allergy to your pet, bringing Coco along to your family outing will likely not be recommended. However, you still have options. Snap some pictures of your beloved family dog to share with Grandma or Grandpa or show them a video of the puppy playing with the grandkids!
Memory Care. If your loved one is part of a Memory Care program, talk to their caregivers and find out if a gentle introduction to the family pet might be beneficial. Some seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory deficits may not be able to spend much time away from home, so plan accordingly and have a plan B in place in case Grandpa wants to cut the visit short or does not enjoy being around the dog. On the other hand, the dog may bring back memories and even bring some comfort and joy into their day.
Dog therapy programs. If you do not have a pet to share with your loved one and feel that they could benefit from being around one, you can reach out to a dog therapy program. Trained therapy dogs can make visits to hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers and many other places. These therapy dogs can brighten up almost anyone’s day and can be a source of assistance perhaps even to your senior.
Just a little planning and preparation can help enable you to share Coco with your loved one. Spring and summer are wonderful seasons to be outdoors enjoying nature, and the perfect time to watch a puppy play while soaking up the sunshine. Bring some joy into your senior’s life with the help of Coco this year!