What to do when older adults can no longer care for pets
What happens if an elderly parent or loved one can’t provide the pet care it needs? We’ll discuss what you can do to help them and when it is time to rehome a beloved pet.
Pet ownership is an important commitment. We all want to be with our best animal friends forever, but the harsh reality is that we sometimes can’t take care of them the way they deserve. Mobility issues and cognitive decline are common as people age. This can make caring for a pet more difficult. If people cannot walk, cleaning the litter box or taking the dog for a walk around the block is difficult. It’s easy for people to forget about their pet or cat if they forget their appointments.
When you see a family member or friend struggling to care for their animal, lend a hand. Some people only need a little help to keep their pet close to them, while others may find it more humane to look for a home that will meet their pet’s needs.
How to help seniors keep their pets
The benefits of having pets with older adults are indisputable! Pets stimulate the mind and nourish the soul. Your loved one can keep their pet by their side, whether they move into an assisted-living facility or stay at home with family caregivers.
If you are a senior moving into an assisted-living residence, look for one that is pet-friendly. Nursing homes and assisted-living communities that accept pets and provide assistance with their care are available nationwide. There’s also a chance that other nursing home residents will be happy to have another pet around.
Regular visits by paid pet sitters or family members and friends willing to help can keep the pet and home of an older adult in good condition. Support networks can help older adults keep their pets in a familiar home with their loved ones.
Simple adjustments can be made to help more capable seniors take care of themselves. Consider making adjustments such as:
Avoid crouching when cleaning the litter box by moving it to a raised area, such as a table.
Buy a doggy poop bagger with a long handle so they won’t need to bend over to bag the poop.
Install a doggie door in a fenced-in backyard to allow dogs to let themselves out as needed.
You can also add a chute to the dog kibble or cat food bowls so that they don’t have to bend over.
Set up a recurring reminder on their phone, or use a smart-home system, to remind them about feeding times and other tasks.
When to Rehome an Aging Adult’s Pet
Even though you may want to keep a loved one and their beloved pet together, in some cases, it is necessary to find them a new home.
They can no longer care for them because their health problems have become severe.
The animal consistently shows signs of poor treatment.
Uncleaned urine and feces in the home can make it unhealthy.
They do not have a family member or friend to help with the care.
Pet care is not affordable for many people.
They are moving into an assisted living facility that does not allow pets.
Talking about the loss of a pet can be difficult. People with health problems may find it difficult to accept that they cannot do everything they used to. Make sure to lead with empathy, and let them know this is not a conversation about judgment. After all, you both want the best for your pet.
You can best help an elderly loved one to create a care plan for their pet before the person can no longer take care of them. This sense of preparedness can make the transition easier. Talk to them about their options, such as whether they can leave their pet with a family member or trusted friend or if you want to select an animal shelter with them.
Take care of yourself. These subjects can be challenging, especially for adult children with elderly parents. Give yourself time to talk to a trusted friend or therapist about your parent’s health decline.
The same goes for their pets. We want to ensure the elderly adults we care about have a happy and healthy final year. We’ll cheer you on at every step.