Pets can be a great source of comfort and companionship for older adults. Snuggling a warm, cuddly cat or dog can bring a feeling of well-being and help reduce stress. But, what happens when it isn’t possible for a senior to have a cat or dog because of their living situation or allergies? In such cases, an aquarium filled with colorful fish might be a great alternative. In fact, research has shown that fish can be especially helpful for people suffering from dementia.
Fish and Dementia Patients.
Researchers at Purdue University conducted a study to determine the affect of having an aquarium on people with Alzheimer’s disease. They followed 60 Alzheimer’s patients living in facilities that provided Alzheimer’s care. The study revealed that the patients who spent time watching the fish in the tank were more alert and appeared to be more relaxed. They also ate more than those who didn’t have fish tanks to watch. In fact, on average, they ate 17.2 percent more food. In addition, the patients with access to an aquarium exhibited less disruptive behavior, with less instances of wandering, aggression, and yelling.
Caring for Pet Fish.
Even if the older adult for whom you are a caregiver is not suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, fish can be relaxing and fun to watch. Not only are the fish colorful and lively, the decorations you place in the tank are also bright and attractive. Plus, there’s the soothing sound of the bubbling water as it runs through the filters.
If you’re concerned that adding an aquarium will greatly increasing your caregiver duties, you needn’t be. Fish are relatively easy to care for. To make things as easy as possible, research which fish are hardiest and easiest to care for. In general, freshwater fish are easier than saltwater fish, and they usually cost less, too.
Fish need regular care, just like any other pet. They must be fed daily, and their aquariums need periodic cleaning. The older adult can assist caregivers with taking care of the fish, and will probably enjoy doing so. Seniors can feed the fish once or twice per day. If the person has cognitive issues, monitor them and be sure they feed the fish only a small amount of food. A general guide is to give the fish no more than what they can eat in two or three minutes. Fish tanks need to be cleaned about once a month, but you’ll need to replace some of the water on a weekly basis.
If the senior in your life seems a bit bored and lonely, think about getting them an aquarium, or even a goldfish bowl. Having a pet to care for can be comforting and provide companionship. Also, caring for fish can give seniors a sense of purpose.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring professional caregiver services in Birmingham, AL, call and talk to the staff at Lipford Home Care (205) 623-5700.
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