Here at SeniorSafetyAdvice.com, both Esther and I are pet lovers. Over the years, we’ve been “owned” by assorted dogs and cats, so we know the joy that pets can bring to your life.
When seniors have pets, though, it can be difficult for them to take care of their animals the same way they used to. Arthritis and balance issues can make it more difficult to reach down to pick up water bowls or feeding dishes.
Cuddling the pet might be impossible if they can’t pick the animal up because of hip or joint problems. Even something as routine as scooping a litter box or cleaning up after dog on a walk can be tough for an elderly person.
For seniors who have pets, there are some products that can help them safely care for their furry family members. We recommend:
- portable pet stairs
- an elevated feeder
- easy to scoop cat litter
- “jaws” to pick up dog waste.
Portable Pet Stairs
Pets give us unconditional love and who can resist cuddling with them?
If the animal is mobile enough to hop up on the bed or the couch, it makes it pretty easy for a senior to have their pet on their lap or beside them when sleeping. But if the elderly owner is used to picking up their dog or cat to place them on the sofa or the bed, there is a risk of the person being injured, especially if their pet is heavy or wiggly.
Avoid the possibility of potential falls and injury by using portable pet stairs.
Pet stairs are helpful for both an elderly person or an elderly pet. Even though I’m not a senior person, I got these stairs for our older cat when she turned 13 and had hip problems that prevented her from getting up on the couch (and our laps).
They are lightweight and can be easily moved from place to place in the room or within the house or even taken outside to aid in getting the pet into the car. The fleece-type covering can be vacuumed to remove pet hair or it can be taken off the frame and laundered in a washer. Also, the steps suction to floor or tile so the stairs won’t slip around.
Note: just make sure the pet stairs are in a place that isn’t in the way of a senior using a cane or walker.
Feeding pets on the floor may be difficult for someone with hip or joint problems or a person with compromised balance issues.
Another potential hazard for an elderly person is the water puddles and resulting slippery floors if their pet splashes water everywhere while drinking. In fact, we had to put a plastic, rimmed liner under our cat’s water bowl because either they splashed the water while drinking or I managed to spill it when I picked up the bowl to give them fresh water.
If the senior is a little compromised or has problems bending or crouching to pick up their pet’s bowls, consider using an elevated feeder like the Neater Feeder.
Elevated feeders work well if the dog or cat is tall enough. They come in various colors and in designs that can be as plain or as fancy as the the senior likes.
The Neater Feeder is plastic, but you can also get this type of feeder on wooden stands or wrought iron ones. A handy person could even make one pretty easily with ideas from places like Pinterest.
I consider the feeder from Neater Brands to be a great option because it has a splash guard which eliminates the aforementioned puddles, thus possible slips and falls. It has dual reservoirs, allowing water to drain down to the bottom so you don’t have a mess. It also comes with leg extensions so it can be made taller or shorter as the space (or pet) requires.
Pet Waste Clean Up Products
For cat owners – cleaning out the litter box can be difficult, not to mention messy. For an elderly cat owner, I would recommend putting the litter box on something that’s high enough for the person to reach easily, like a low bench or a short table.
It would also be helpful for them to use a litter that is easy to scoop. I just started using Arm & Hammer’s new Slide Litter myself and it’s 100% dust-free (a boon in my small bathroom), plus the wet clumps don’t stick to the sides of the pan. This means less scraping and mess, so an elderly person who uses it won’t have to spend so much time hunched over.
For dog owners – if the senior lives in a neighborhood where they have to scoop up after their dog, it can be hard for them to accomplish the task easily. This is where jaw scoops are super handy.
Pik-a-Poo makes an awesome jaw scoop that can be operated with just one hand.
With this scoop, there is no need for the person to bend or touch the pet waste. You just attach a plastic bag to the back (like the kind you get from a grocery store), scoop the waste up and tilt the scooper so it falls back into the bag.
The device has an easy-to-squeeze grip for elderly people with weak hands. It can be used on most surfaces – grass, stones, and concrete and even lets you get into corners. The scoop also makes night walks safer because it comes with a built in flashlight.
Note: I would recommend that the senior have a garbage container already lined with a plastic bag sitting outside so that they can just dump the waste from the scooper into the can as they come back in from their walk.
If Possible, Don’t Separate A Senior From Their Pet
As a multi pet owners ourselves, if a senior is having a hard time caring for their pet, we strongly suggest the person’s loved ones consider and attempt ways to help them keep their furry family member for as long as possible. The heartbreak of separating a pet from his owner can be traumatic and overwhelming, especially for seniors who are battling the loss of so much already.