Pet Separation In Seniors
Pets are more than just domesticated animals; they’re loving, loyal companions, just as much a part of our families as the human family members. Although people from all walks of life enjoy the companionship of a furry friend, pet ownership seems to be even more common among elderly adults. Seniors who live on their own derive great pleasure and satisfaction by living with and caring for their dog, cat, bird, or other pet, forming a tight bond with the animal. Thus, long-term or permanent pet separation can be devastating to seniors.
Benefits Of Pet Ownership
Pet ownership provides a cascade of health and other benefits. Studies have shown that regular contact with a pet animal can reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, an important benefit because the elderly tend to have higher blood pressure. Most pets require some form of physical activity, so pet owners can get seniors out and about for exercise and fresh air.
Pet ownership benefits mental health, too. Pets give their owners a sense of purpose in caring for the animal, reducing boredom. In return, the unconditional love pets give their owners makes the owners feel loved and cared about.
Most elderly people have less to do during the day, so pets can provide them some structure where it was previously lacking. Walks, vet visits, eating, play, and more all give seniors things to do.
Pet Separation’s Effects
Eventually, many families decide to move their elderly loved one to an assisted living home. Such a move can be hard for seniors who have a strong bond with their pet. Many care so much for their pet that they care more about what happens to their pet than to themselves. Others appreciate having less responsibility, but still can’t shake feelings of guilt for “ditching” their furry friend. Despite your best intentions, separating your elderly loved one from their pet can be hard on them, so be by their side the whole time.
Now, most pets do keep seniors on their feet, helping to delay some of the effects of aging through exercise. However, many seniors still find regular exercise with their pet quite difficult. Some seniors in a more deteriorated state of health may even struggle to feed their pet and cleaning up after them, let alone paying the vet a visit. Thus, the bond will begin to suffer anyways. Moving your elderly loved one to an assisted living facility may be emotionally painful for them, but the alternative is a pet with an owner than increasingly cannot care for them.
Is It Possible To Get My Elderly Loved One A Pet?
Fortunately, some seniors may be able to own a pet despite living in an assisted-care facility. If your loved one is physically capable of caring for a pet and lives in a publicly-owned facility, federal law prevents the facility from denying them pet ownership. Many private facilities recognize the power of pets and thus also allow pet ownership to a certain degree.
If they can’t bring their pet, you can always care for the pet and bring them in for regular visits (if allowed). There are also volunteer organizations that brings dogs regularly into these types of facilities to give residents that access to loving animals they’ve sorely missed.
But if neither you nor your loved one can care for the pet, you may have to sadly surrender it to a shelter. Whatever you do, find a “no-kill” shelter for both the pet’s sake and the owner’s sake. Your loved one may have a hard time with this, but at least they have peace of mind knowing their pet will find another loving home.
If individual, resident-owned pets don’t work, many facilities have one “community” pet. This is common with dogs, as dogs can get territorial and defensive if other dogs are present in the facility. Everyone in the facility gets to form a bond with the pet without worrying about their own dogs getting into fights with other dogs. Mainline Adult Daycare does offer pet therapy regularly, so if your elderly loved one is looking for regular interaction with animals without having their own furry friend, talk to us today.