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For generations, pets have been a part of the fabric of our lives, keeping us company and providing us with steadfast, loyal devotion. Enjoyed by over half the households in the country, pet ownership is especially common amongst seniors, who, often living on their own, find the company of a good cat, dog, bird, or other pet to be of great comfort. The deteriorating health of our elderly, besides being the major motivator for a move to an assisted- living facility, can also adversely affect their pets.
Despite the elderly pet lover’s diminishing capacity to care for his or her pet, studies show the health benefits of regular contact with an animal to be significant, especially for the aged.
The good news is that most seniors today need not be denied the company of a pet, even when relocated into an assisted-care facility.
Resident pets don’t always work out well though, especially when the senior in question has a dog evidencing territorial behavior. If the senior cannot adequately care for a resident pet, family members can bring the animal into the facility for regular visits, rules permitting.
In some cases, when the family or senior is unwilling or unable to care for a pet, it may have to be surrendered to a shelter for placement with another family. If the pet is being cared for in a managed care facility by a resident, certain practices can be taken to make caring for the pet easier.
Elder Care Resources is dedicated to empowering area seniors, their caregivers and healthcare professionals to obtain the knowledge and resources needed to provide quality care for an aging relative, friend or patient.
About UsElder Care Resources Phoenix is dedicated to empowering area seniors, their caregivers and healthcare professionals to obtain the knowledge and resources needed to provide quality care for an aging relative, friend or patient. Last, consider getting your mother a Safe Return® bracelet from the Alzheimer’s Association, which assists in the return of those who wander or get lost.
Research has shown that poor oral health can have a negative impact on seniors’ overall health and well-being, but for many, there are significant barriers to visiting a dentist, finds a new report in the American Journal of Health Behavior. The researchers found that 89 percent of the participants, who frequented eight senior centers in New York City, needed some form of dental treatment with an average of two cavities per person. Three months after their initial dental exam, those who didn’t get subsequent dental care cited three primary barriers — 60 percent noted financial issues, 31 percent said transportation was a problem and 20 percent needed someone to help make the appointment and find a dentist. Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Direction agrees, noting the study clearly identifies unmet needs of older Americans who would benefit from more reliable, accessible and affordable dental care.
Salo noted that one important barrier that isn’t addressed is having an adequate and responsive dental workforce.

Most of us have felt their unconditional love, and the sheer joy that comes from having a best friend who accepts us for who we are, faults and all, in an uncomplicated, mutually satisfying intimacy.
No longer able to go for regular walks, seniors aren’t able to properly exercise their dogs, or attend to basic pet needs such as feeding, cleaning up, and taking the pet in for a veterinary checkup. Contact with a dog, cat, or other pet has been clinically shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and to reduce the incidence of depression as related to failing health and fading autonomy.
First, as per federal housing laws, publicly-run facilities cannot prohibit pet ownership by residents,provided they are able to care for the pet.
If the resident does not properly socialize the dog with other patients, the animal can become overly-protective and guarded. Or, volunteer organizations such as the Delta Society, Pets On Wheels, Therapy Dogs International, or dozens of others can be called upon to send their legions of volunteers to facilities all across the nation, bringing with them friendly dogs or cats to delight both residents and staff.
This pet separation can be devastating or liberating to the pet lover, depending upon the outcome.
With a cat for instance, the litter box needn’t be located on the floor, where it might be difficult for the senior to access. Six weeks following their initial dental exams, 52 percent had sought dental treatment but 48 percent had not been able to access dental services. Those without the ability to drive or use transit can no longer get to the store for pet food and other supplies.
Pets help reduce boredom and feelings of hopelessness, and instill in the owner a sense of purpose born from being accountable for the welfare of an animal. This is especially common with the dog of an elderly owner, as it can sense its master’s failing health, and often compensates with increasing protectiveness.
Trained to help seniors, children, hospital patients, and the cognitively impaired to enjoy interaction with gentle, loving pets, these volunteer visits are often the highlight of a pet-loving resident’s entire week. Better to locate it at waist height on a counter, where the resident can easily attend to it. If not found within 24 hours, up to half of wandering individuals will suffer serious injury or death. Seniors who had not received follow-up treatment had significantly fewer teeth and were more likely to have been referred for new dentures or to repair old ones. She reveals the latest trends, tips, news, websites & products for baby boomers, caregivers & older adults.

And if the pet is a large, healthy dog, the senior might even get hurt trying to manage or control it.
Though private facilities need not abide by these same federal laws, many still do allow pet ownership on varying levels. National organizations like the SPCA and the Humane Society, as well as countless quality regional shelters can all help with the difficult task of finding the appropriate home for a good pet whose owner can no longer care for it. For walking a dog, residents can use a halter-type collar instead of a traditional neck collar, to prevent pulling on leash. Though smaller pets such as cats or birds pose less of a problem, the ability to care for them properly is still diminished, often to the detriment of the pet. Staff and family providing elder care support can assist the patient when needed, with feeding, walking, and other pet-related duties.
The halter collar fits on the pet’s face like the bridle of a horse, and makes leash control nearly effortless. The pet provides a sense of obligation and duty, acts as a social catalyst, and gives the elderly owner someone to talk to and confide in. Patients with a good degree of autonomy are often fully able to care for a pet, especially when the living arrangement closely mirrors a normal home environment. The same goes for a bird cage; place it at the appropriate height and location so the resident can access it easily. For all pet owners, but especially those in failing health, a pet can literally add years of health and happiness. All food, litter, and pet supplies should be easily accessible and light enough not to cause strain. And for medical concerns, consider having a mobile veterinary service visit the facility, instead of requiring the senior or a family member to make a trip.

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