Pets are an important part of people’s lives, and can be especially valuable to elderly adults. Many studies have shown that regular interaction with animals can reduce stress, ease depression and other mental and emotional health issues, decrease loneliness and isolation, reduce blood pressure, protect the heart, and overall increase quality of life, health, and well-being. With how important these furry friends are to your aging parent, it is clear that protecting them and keeping them as safe, healthy, and happy as possible should be a focus of your care efforts for your parent. This holiday season, take the time to focus on these pets and make sure that you are taking the proper steps to keep them safe so that they can enjoy the holiday celebrations and avoid the risks that this season may bring.
Some ways that you can keep your parent’s pet safe during the holidays include:
- Keep wrapping supplies away from the pet. Ribbons, bows, scissors, tape, small embellishments, and other items can be ingested and cause serious damage.
- Remember that many decorative items during the holiday season, including plants such as poinsettias, are highly toxic to animals. If your parent has pets, consider giving them an artificial poinsettia rather than a real one.
- Do not give dogs bones when preparing a holiday meal or after eating. Though they will enjoy chewing on them, there is a high risk that they will shatter and the pet will swallow sharp pieces that can become lodged in the throat or cause serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract. keep in mind that poultry bones are hollow and the most dangerous to give to animals.
- If you are expecting guests, consider putting the animals in a secure area of the home so that they do not become overly excited or are not accidentally allowed out of the home.
- Avoid leaving any animal out of the home for any length of time. Even though they have fur, they are still vulnerable to the temperatures, particularly if it is snowy or rainy.
- Make sure gifts are promptly cleaned up after opening so that no pet will be tempted to play with or chew on an item that could be dangerous for them.
- Pay close attention to animals around Christmas light strands. Some animals have a tendency to chew on such strands and can be electrocuted.
- Never leave an animal unattended in a room with an open flame.
Being a family caregiver for an elderly adult is challenging. This is especially true if you are a member of the sandwich generation also caring for children, or you live at a distance from your senior. You may feel as though you are not able to give your parent the care that they need, or that your efforts have caused a tremendous amount of stress that is diminishing your quality of life and the care that you give them. You may notice this even more during the holiday season. Fortunately, home care can help. Having an in-home care provider with your parent ensures that they are always getting the care that they need, both when you are with them and when you are not. This not only fulfills their personal needs, but also supports a more active, engaged, independent, and meaningful lifestyle as they age in place.