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Elder Care Planning Should Include Pet Care

As the U.S. population ages, more focus is being placed on moving individuals into elder health care residences or long-term care facilities, and there is natural concern about all of the support that is necessary for an aging community. But one thing people may not think about is what steps to take to ensure the care of an elder’s pet. It is in everyone’s best interest, including the owner, the family members and the beloved pet, if there is a succession plan in place for if and when an individual becomes too ill to care for their furry friend, or needs to move to a care facility.  [1]

According to PetFinder.com, there are ways to re-home a pet. First, reach out to family and friends to see if they will take the pet when the time comes. Make sure the pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations. Have the pet spayed or neutered, if needed. This will make the pet far easier to re-home. [2]

If the pet has behavioral issues, have it evaluated and work with a professional trainer before attempting to introduce it to potential new owners. There are state and local laws regarding owner liability in re-homing a troubled or aggressive pet.

Meet the staff of the local animal shelter. Visit the kennels, and inquire about the re-homing or no-kill policy. While euthanasia should be a last resort, says author Sue Sternberg, there is also the possibility in a no-kill shelter that the animal will linger there without a home, long-term, in distress.

List the pet with a request to “re-home” on a classified internet board, with a full description of the pet’s behavior. Add a color photo, and be sure to carefully screen callers.

If giving up an environment that includes a pet is simply too daunting, look into a nursing or other care facility that allows pet companions. There are senior housing facilities and even some assisted living facilities that allow smaller companion animals, with some restrictions. There are also numerous care facilities that have service animals for the emotional well-being of their residents. The National Institute for Health has conducted a study in which they found that pet ownership among the elderly led to better self-care, including exercise, nutrition, and cardiovascular health. [3]

  1. http://petsfortheelderly.org/articles.html
  2. http://www.petproblemsolved.com.au/index.php?p=5_17
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8948954

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