Monday, October 29, 2012

What will I do with my pet if I have to move to a nursing home?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09:  Tomo McLoyd holds the ...
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Tomo McLoyd holds the paw of her dog Rocky, 14, as veterinarian Wendy McCulloch euthanizes the pet at their apartment on May 9, 2012 in New York City. McLoyd had made the difficult decision to call McCulloch to perform the procedure after the pet could no longer walk. End of life issues have become increasingly important for pet owners, as advanced medical treatments and improved nutrition are extending pets lives well into old age. McCulloch runs Pet Requiem, a home veterinary service designed to provide geriatric care and in-home euthanasia for dying pets in the New York and New Jersey area. Many pet owners are choosing such in-home care to try and provide a humane and compassionate 'good death' for their beloved pets. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Are you or an elderly parent preparing to move to a senior facility like an assisted living or nursing home?  It can be very unsettling to leave familiar surroundings and even family but the shock can be greater if you or your elderly parent must leave a trusted and beloved pet behind!  The term “pet” doesn’t even begin to describe how most of us feel about our pets.  To a true pet owner, they are a member of our family, a confidant, a loved one and leaving them can be devastating!

Don’t despair!  More and more senior facilities are accepting pets as they know that pets are more than a companion, they can be great therapy for seniors. Here are some of the benefits of  having a pet during the transition and after.

Pets help with transition:
  • Pets help maintain the link to former lifestyle and residence
  • Pets help the new resident feel more settled and secure
  • Pets provide a sense of independence
  • Pets can help adjust to new routines by becoming part of them
  • Pets can help make a new environment feel like home

 Pets provide ongoing benefits:
  • They can help with loneliness and provide needed companionship
  • Pets can encourage independence of their owner to continue caring for them
  • Pets can provide an opportunity for social interaction with others
  • Pets bring continuity to daily routines which may be new and different
  • Pets are often credited for reducing stress and even depression

There are numerous studies that support pets in senior facilities and for seniors in general.  The potential benefits have created a whole new field of therapy for seniors known as Pet Therapy.  For seniors without pets, specialists are often invited to visit senior facilities and bring specially trained animals to visit and interact with the residents.  And it’s not just dogs!  Pet therapy can include dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.  These animals, along with fish and birds, are also accepted as pets for residents in pet-friendly facilities.

But be prepared!  Many facilities have rules and guidelines you must meet before your pet is as welcome as you or your elderly parent.  Here are some of the common requirements and not all of these may be required by the facility you choose:

Common pet requirements:
  • The resident must be able to care for the pet on their own including walking, feeding and cleaning
  • There are size limits on pets as well as quantity limits
  • The pet must get along well with others
  • The pet must not become disruptive or disturbing to other residents
  • The resident must take financial responsibility for the pet’s food, medical care and general needs

Pets at Home
Pets at Home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Don’t leave your beloved pet behind when it’s time to move!  The promise of taking a pet to a new environment can be very comforting and make transition a bit easier.  Be sure to do your research to make sure the facility you choose for yourself or your aging parent accepts pets.  To obtain a list 
of facilities in your area that meet your needs please consider .

If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for their loved ones is what we care about. 
We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If you find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider

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