Aging in Place: Helping Older Family Members Keep Their Pet

Dogs, Cats and other small, domesticated animals have provided humans with companionship, task assistance, and love for thousands of years. Pet owners understand first-hand how quickly these animals become a part of the family and how devastating it can be to lose one to old age or illness. It can also be equally upsetting to be forced to give your pet up because you are unable to care for it. Luckily, there are numerous organizations that can provide financial, health, and logistical support that most pet owners don’t realize exist. Leveraging this assistance can improve the lives of both the owner and the pet and allow them to continue to live together happily.

Financial

If your loved one is having financial difficulty with respect to maintaining the quality of care given to a pet, there are many organizations that can provide assistance. The Humane Society of the United States has a comprehensive listing of both National organizations and organizations listed by State on their website that provide financial assistance to pet owners in need. This assistance can come in many forms such as: pet food supplementation, prescription medication payment relief, and the financial assistance for the diagnosis and treatment of various chronic conditions.

Pet Well-Being and Logistics

Often-times, older pet owners have limited or declining mobility which can prevent them from getting their pets the proper amount of exercise, taking their pets to routine or emergency vet visits, and picking up the proper pet supplies. Fortunately, there are several options available to support these activities. Developing a comprehensive pet care plan can eliminate many of the concerns that pet owners might have and give them peace of mind in case issues arise. The following items should be considered when developing your plan:

  • Routine Veterinarian Appointments – There are many vets both locally and nationally that now offer home visits for their appointments. Mobile vet clinics are also increasing in popularity. It is good to have a shared calendar with all caregivers involved to ensure routines vet appointments don’t get overlooked.
  • Emergency Medical Visits- in the case of an emergency where transportation assistance is required, Uber and Lyft both allow transportation of pets. To have the best outcome, call the driver while they are in route to let them know that you will be traveling with a pet so they can make the necessary adjustments.
  • Exercise and Dog Walking – There are thousands of dog walking companies and start-ups in the space such as Wag! and iHeartDogs and that can provide routine or emergency pet walking or drop-in visit services. Providing the proper exercise for your pet is important for the well-being of your pet and prevention of chronic disease. Don’t disregard this component.
  • Assistance with Meal Time and Treats – It is a good idea to document feeding times, amounts, and snack allowances for all involved with pet caregiving to ensure proper nutrition.
  • Supply pickup and unloading- There are many services and grocery stores that provide grocery and subsequently pet food delivery and unloading. This can ease the burden on pet owners who aren’t able to drive or do so infrequently.
  • Boarding/Monitoring in case of Owner vacation or Hospital stay – There are numerous boarding facilities, kennels, and even a tech company called Rover that can provide routine or emergency pet sitting services on demand.
  • Prioritized Contact Listing for Boarding Alternatives due to Emergencies – Make sure that all individuals involved in providing pet care are readily accessible and prioritized by boarding rank preference. This can come in handy in the case of an emergency.

Pets provide love, companionship, personal enrichment, and often serve as the emotional stability needed for older pet owners to get through tough life events. It is imperative that a pet care plan be considered to ensure that our older family members can continue to reap all of the benefits of pet ownership and the pet can still receive quality care for a healthy life.

 

 

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