They like being the center of attention. Sometimes, they demand more energy and consideration than you feel you have time for. You get home from work and immediately they want to know how your day went and when the two of you can spend time together. No, this is not your husband or wife. This is man’s best friend—Mr. Dog—and he’s proving to be a boon to the old and young alike.
Charlotte was hesitant. She’d never really spent much time around dogs. Her parents were more cat people and she’d always put herself in that same group. Her daughter, who acted at times as the family caregiver, said they would be too much to handle. Cats were independent. Dogs demanded attention. Cats could wander freely. Dogs needed a leash and 30 minutes a day walking the neighborhood streets. Why would anyone in their right mind want a dog? And then it happened. She’d heard a constant whimpering for several days and couldn’t quite pinpoint its location. She’d asked the neighborhood boy if he could track it down. He’d returned with a twelve pound skin-and-bones mutt who had apparently seen better days. There was no collar, and he wore a matted fur coat and sad and weary eyes that only a mother could love. Charlotte took him in, notified the pound and put up signs with his picture. No one claimed him and she was left to believe he’d been abandoned.
Several weeks later, her daughter came for a visit. She was surprised at her mom’s appearance. Gone were the tired eyes and half smile. In her place stood a vibrant woman, filled with life and a new and unusual pep in her step. She usually visited her mom at least once a week to prepare meals and tidy up the house. But there was no need this time. Apparently, her days of playing the role of her mom’s caregiver were brushed aside for now. Her mom gleefully introduced her daughter to her new best friend that she had named Lucky.
Dogs are named man’s best friend for a reason. For the elderly, they provide a great source of friendship and companionship. They relieve stress and agitation and make one focus on something greater than themselves. “I think I’m going to go feel sorry for myself now. No, wait. I can’t. Lucky needs feeding.” Before you know it, someone who was lonely and bearing close to the shores of depression, finds a new lease on life…a new purpose and reason for being.
While your parent may not exercise for themselves, chances are they will exercise for their new found best friend. This may be just the motivation your doctor ordered—30 minutes a day of brisk walking.
Being with a dog has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) and increase serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter). They bring comfort when you’re sad and support when you’re lonely. If your best friend has ever been with you when you had a meltdown and started crying, you know what their reaction is. They are the first, and probably the last, to jump up on your lap and lick those tears away. In addition to emotional well-being, the American Heart Association has published studies regarding the decrease in heart disease among those that interact or have a dog.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Perry, FL, please call the caring staff at Hopewell In-Home Senior Care today at 850-386-5552. Providing Senior Care Services in North Florida.