Emotional support animals provide relief to many thousands of mental health sufferers in America. Anyone can avail of an ESA as long as they meet the qualifying condition of having a genuine mental health disorder. Mental disorders can affect people at any stage of their lives. But in some cases, the elderly can be extremely vulnerable, for a variety of reasons. Being older doesn’t qualify a person for an ESA in and of itself, but any genuine mental condition would. Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are all common among the elderly community, and all three of these debilitating disorders would qualify a patient for an ESA. But when it comes to emotional support animals and the elderly, what are the benefits?
1. They provide companionship
For many families who worry about their elder relatives, the primary concern is one of isolation. For some lucky elderly couples, both of them are able to live together. But in many cases, life takes its course and one is left behind. Isolation and loneliness can be a major precipitator of mental disorders, most predominantly depression. An ESA can help elderly people through their later years by providing a sense of constant companionship on a daily basis. Most families undoubtedly try to see their older relatives where and when they can. Unfortunately, more often than not, life gets in the way. An ESA can provide additional peace of mind for relatives, while helping the elderly patients combat any symptoms of loneliness.
2. They provide a sense of responsibility
Most people with depression suffer from a lack of meaning, as they feel their life has no consequence. While an emotional support animal isn’t the ultimate answer to this deep-rooted and complicated problem, an ESA can possibly help alleviate some of its manifestations. Elderly people often fret that they have lost control of their lives, and are at the whims of the people around them. This, again, can lead to despondency and depression if left unchecked. An ESA provides a very real and present sense of responsibility that is the patient’s own. Cats and dogs don’t care what age you are. As long as you feed them, provide them with shelter, and show them affection, they will reciprocate in kind.
3. They can help elderly people remain active
In some cases, elderly people often don’t have a lot of reason to leave the house, unless they make one for themselves. This can lead to symptoms of depression and apathy. With each day that goes by, the harder it is to motivate yourself. Being inactive day-in and day-out also isn’t good for a person’s physical health. This effect is magnified when it’s an elderly person. They may be suffering from the early stages of health conditions already. The right ESA can help patients get out and about, avail of a little exercise, and help instil a daily routine. This has also been shown as important for good mental health.
Of course, not every elderly person is able to be active daily. Some are more incapacitated than others. The question of which ESA suits a patient is an important one. Any animal can become an ESA; the pet can be pre-existing, or it can be a totally new pet. Any species is also OK, as long as it’s not ridiculous. But following form, the most popular ESAs are dogs and cats. If the elderly patient wants to keep active, and has the strength to deal with one daily, a dog is perfect choice.
Older dogs who are well-trained can be much more manageable than puppies. They can also make more sense in the long run. If the patient isn’t capable of moving around too much and wants an animal that’s a little less hassle, a cat can be a great option. Cats are also the optimum choice for sufferers of anxiety. They don’t make much noise, and can often be a calming influence. They also don’t demand to be walked!
4. They can get the grandkids around
Grandparents and ESAs just go together. You might find yourself getting more visits from your younger relatives if you just so happen to have a cute, fluffy or playful housemate living with you!
The process of applying for an ESA might seem intimidating for an elderly person. However, it’s actually remarkably simple to get your ESA letter. This is an all-important document that certifies that the patient suffers from a genuine mental condition. It needs to be signed off by a legitimate practitioner, but it can be attained over the internet. Potential patients don’t even need to leave their house to get certified. Grandchildren or children can easily walk their older relatives through the simple procedure online. Ultimately, an ESA could bring a lot to an elderly person’s life, in ways they wouldn’t even imagine. If they’re dealing with some kind of mental disorder, then an ESA could be the perfect answer to help them combat some symptoms.