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The Impact of a Care Recipient's Pet on the Instrumental Caregiving Experience

Older adults report strong emotional bonds with their pets which often become increasingly important as health declines and dependence upon others increases. Individuals requiring assistance meeting their own needs are likely to need assistance in meeting the needs of their pet. The care recipient's pet may be an important, though presently overlooked, factor in the caregiving experience. This study measured the amount of care tasks/ activities informal caregivers of older adults devoted to their care recipients' pet. Caregivers for an individual aged 50 and older who did not consider the care recipient's pet to be his/her own animal completed an online questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and Pearson correlations were used in analyses. Caregivers (N = 34) performed an average of 14.9 (SD = 5.4) different pet care tasks/activities and an average of 11.21 (SD = 1.33) hours per week in pet care. The total number of tasks/activities performed was significantly and positively correlated with the care recipients' degree of functional limitation (r = 0.49, p = 0.004). Care recipients' pets may be a significant factor in shaping the instrumental caregiving experience.

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Journal article
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Journal Of Gerontological Social Work
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