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My mother will be 84 years old this year. She is in fairly good health and is active but she does suffer from some mild confusion. We are thinking of getting her a pet to keep her company in the coming years. If she follows her older siblings, she could live a fairly active life for another 15 years. What are other's thoughts on pets for the elderly?
 

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A cat would be a good idea, no exercise, no outside potty.

An elderly dog would be a choice too, but would have to go outside to eliminate, unless it is a small dog, like a chihuahua and goes in a litter box or on puppy pads.
 

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I think an older adult dog would be a good choice. They have a fair amount of programs out there that try to match up senior dogs with senior people. It's good because their exercise requirements will be less and senior dogs have a tough time finding good homes.
 

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I think pets for the elderly are a wonderful thing. Very theraputic.
They give a person a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to go on. An elderly pet for an elderly person can be a wonderful companion.

However, having said that, you said your mother is suffering some mild confusion. Will someone be around on a regular basis to make sure the pet is being fed and taken care of properly? Will someone make sure the pet gets to the vet when necessary and for regular checkups?

If the pet happens to outlive your mother (sorry) is there someone in the family willing to take on the responsibility of the pet?
 

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I don't think my mother is so confused she would forget to feed and care for a pet. My father would certainly help her in that department. His mind is fine. We have a lot of pet lovers in our family so I don't think there would be a problem if at some time we needed to find a new home for it.

I do not see us getting her a puppy. If we do get a dog, we would probably do a young adult dog who is housebroken and fairly well trained. I think the work and adjustment of a puppy would be too hard on two elderly folks! But I would want it young so there is a good chance it will live at least as long as she would. I think it would be really hard on her to lose it and we would rather take the chance of taking it in ourselves later.

I think a dog would be nice since it would get them outdoors to walk it regularly. However, it would have to be a small dog so it could be a lap dog. Aren't most of those kind of hyper? My sons, my sisters and my husband and I have only had large dogs so none of us have any experience with small ones. I am also wondering if a cat might be best since it doesn't need quite as much maintenance. But isn't is hard to find a cat with the affectionate characteristics of a dog?
 

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An older dog, maybe in the 3 or 4 year old range, something like a poodle, chihuahua, maltese, or something like that would be good. The only problem with a lot of little dogs is sometimes they can be yappers/nippers if they weren't raised properly.

Usually the small breeds that are hyper are terriers, like jack russel terriers.
 

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I don't think my mother is so confused she would forget to feed and care for a pet. My father would certainly help her in that department. His mind is fine. We have a lot of pet lovers in our family so I don't think there would be a problem if at some time we needed to find a new home for it.

I do not see us getting her a puppy. If we do get a dog, we would probably do a young adult dog who is housebroken and fairly well trained. I think the work and adjustment of a puppy would be too hard on two elderly folks! But I would want it young so there is a good chance it will live at least as long as she would. I think it would be really hard on her to lose it and we would rather take the chance of taking it in ourselves later.

I think a dog would be nice since it would get them outdoors to walk it regularly. However, it would have to be a small dog so it could be a lap dog. Aren't most of those kind of hyper? My sons, my sisters and my husband and I have only had large dogs so none of us have any experience with small ones. I am also wondering if a cat might be best since it doesn't need quite as much maintenance. But isn't is hard to find a cat with the affectionate characteristics of a dog?

I agree, a puppy would be too much for 2 elderly people. An adult dog would be best.

A small breed adult dog would not necessarily be hyper. And it is possible to find an affectionate cat.

I would suggest taking your parents to a couple of shelters and contacting some rescues. I'm sure there's a dog or cat out there that would make the perfect companion for your Mom and Dad.
 

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My 96-year-old mother has a shih tzu. They watch out for each other. I think that dog basically saved her life when my dad died a few years ago.

My mother is very hard of hearing and legally blind. The dog alerts her when someone is at the door or when the phone rings. But more important, the dog gives her a reason to get up in the morning and keep moving.
 

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I agree with getting an adult smaller breed, preferably one of the calmer breeds such as a Pug, Miniature poodle (if they are able to keep up with the grooming) Boston or one of the smaller smooth or wire haired spaniels.

Of course a cat is ALWAYS a great pet for older people if there are no allergies involved.
 

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An adult French Bulldog would be a great choice too.

I hope you can find just the right companion for your mom. :)
 

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My grandma spoiled her dog terribly, and when he died, she said "NO MORE DOGS!" We were afraid she'd be depressed without having someone to spoil. But then she started putting cat food out and now she has a bunch of cats to care for. I think older people NEED to have someone to think about and take care of. I agree with a lot of the previous posts.....there's sure to be the right pet in a shelter/rescue, just waiting for your parents.
 

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Well, I discussed all the options with my parents and my Mom decided she didn't want a pet. She says her flowers are her pets and she doesn't have time for a pet because she is too busy taking care of them.

I think it would really help her to have a pet since she expresses that she is lonely a lot of the time. My father is a volunteer chaplain at the prison and is gone several days a week. My sister and I are thinking of asking her to care for one of my sister's dogs for a week or two. He is extremely affectionate. If she gets attached to him, my sister might ask her to take him permanently. My sister has another dog and has been having some behavior problems with the two of them together. We'll see how it goes.
 

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Jodi,
If your mom doesn't want a dog, please respect her wishes. Trying to get her to take your sisters dog is asking for trouble.
 

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I agree with Carla, don't try to get her to take your sister's dog. Maybe you could help your mom get involved in other activities so she's not so lonely. She could meet new friends. Are there clubs she could join? Does she have any hobbies besides gardening? Maybe there is a gardening club. We have rec centers around here that offer fun classes for seniors. Maybe you mom could try something like that. Or maybe there are some volunteer opportunities that would be fun for your mom. There was a recent study that seniors who volunteer have a longer, happier life.
 

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My Mom has taken this dog before and loves him. We've tried the volunteer route, but she keeps quitting because she feels like she can't do it. She won't go to the activities at the senior center because she is so shy. I hear what you are saying about not forcing it on her. However, she has wanted a dog for years but my Dad has discouraged her because they traveled so much. That is not the case now.

I really believe she is saying no because she feels she will be inadequate as a caregiver. She has always had a lot of self-esteem issues that seem to be magnifying with age. That is one of the reasons my sisters and I think a pet would be good for her. It would give her purpose which she seems to be lacking now that she is slowing down. I think she is just afraid of failure. That's why we thought a trial would show her that she really can do it and now that we're encouraging her to get a pet, maybe she'll see it differently after she's had Jackson with her for awhile. She is starting to draw into herself and we think this will help. She really is a caretaker at heart. She is constantly baking things and giving them to us. I don't think she realizes what a blessing a pet would be to her until she tries it.
 

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Jodi, your mom sounds depressed. Perhaps counseling would help, but I think she should have a complete check-up first. Confusion , even mild, may indicate a medical concern. Confusion and lower self-esteem are not just a normal part of aging. There is usually some underlying factor. Dogs and cats are wonderful and can help with depression, but she really should see a mental health professional based on what you are saying. Maybe if she gets some treatment, she will feel better and again want a dog. I know you are concerned for and love your mom. The fact that your sister needs to re-home her pet should not be a factor when it sounds like other stuff is going on in your mom's life right now. A cat could be a good option. Cats can be very affectionate and are much easier to care for. I am a mental health professional by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks to everyone for your advise. We've decided to drop the subject until my Mother brings it up. My sister is not looking to re-home her dog. She would however, give it to our Mom if she wanted it. And I don't think my Mother is depressed. She is very cheerful. She has ALWAYS felt inadequate and been painfully shy. I think she has just stopped trying to overcome it and put on a front. She is happy with her flower gardens at the moment so until she expresses the need for something more, we'll just leave it. I just got a sweet new cat. Maybe that will give her ideas because she loved my other cat.
 
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