People need exercise. Dogs need exercise.
So, your elderly parent walking their dog seems like an excellent solution to both needs. It is, except that new research shows that walking a dog increases the risk of breaking a bone. Researchers looked at data gathered from across the country and found that the number of fractures that older adults experienced due to dog walking more than doubled between the years of 2004 and 2017.
In 2004, there were 1,700 fractures that happened while walking the dog. In 2017, the number was 4,400. Now, this doesn’t mean seniors should not have dogs or that they should not walk them. Instead, it suggests that they should take extra care while walking.
Keep the Dog—It Offers Health Benefits
If concern about your parent’s safety has you questioning whether they should even have a dog, experts say the health benefits of pets far outweigh the risk of older adults being injured during a walk.
Some health benefits of owning pets are:
- Lower blood pressure levels.
- Decreased cholesterol.
- Reduced triglycerides.
- Less loneliness.
- More opportunities to exercise and go outside.
- More chances for social interaction.
- Safety Tips for Dog Walking
Your parent can continue walking their dog. It’s good for both of them! However, they should be sure they take safety precautions to avoid problems.
Some safety tips for dog walking are:
Use the Right Leash: Make sure your parent is using the right equipment to walk the dog. The leash should be the right size for the dog. It should be between 4 and 6 feet long. Retractable leashes are inadvisable since they offer less control over the dog.
Keep the Dog on Leash: No matter how well-behaved the dog is, it should remain on a leash. Even the most well-behaved dog can dash after a squirrel, which could result in your parent trying to dash after them and falling.
Be Visible: Seniors should wear clothing that makes them easily visible to prevent being hit by a car. Consider getting them a reflective vest. You can also purchase reflective leashes, collars, and vests for dogs.
Don’t Approach Other Dogs: Unless your parent knows the other dog and theirs will get along and stay calm, it’s best to stay away from other dogs. Even if their dog is friendly, the other dog may not be. Or, they may decide to play and cause your parent to trip over the leash.
If you have concerns about your aging parent walking alone with the dog, a senior care provider can walk with them. The senior care provider can hold the leash so that there is less reason for concern, but the older adult still gets the benefits of walking with their dog. In addition to helping your parent to walk their dog, a senior care provider can help with other aspects of basic pet care, allowing them to keep the dog they love. A senior care provider can assist with feeding, scheduling vet appointments, and driving owner and pet to the veterinarian.
The staff at Home Care Matters is available to talk with you and your family about all of your needs. Home Care Matters is a home care agency providing quality and affordable Homecare in Braselton, GA, and surrounding areas. Call (678) 828-2195 for more information.
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