When you’re helping an elderly family member cope with the aging you are often faced with difficult choices. From finances, to medical care and living arrangements, there are a lot of big decisions that need to be made. However, there is one decision that is rarely talked about. And it can be one of the most difficult thing to discuss. It’s about the care of their pets.
As much as they love their pets and mean well by them, it doesn’t always mean that they can take care of them like they used to be able to care for them. So, how do we know when it is time to make the decision to move the pet to another home and how do you go about discussing this with your family member?
Signs that a pet may need better care:
There are a few hallmark signs that you will notice when your family member is having trouble caring for their pet. Be careful not to jump to conclusions, but it is important to keep an eye for these telltale signs that a pet may need more care than what they are getting.
- Weight Loss
- Constantly empty food or water bowls
- Bathroom messes indoors
- Unkempt or matted coats
- Constant escapes
How to help them cope with the care or removal of a pet
We wish the hardest part of this was knowing when the pet in question is in need. However, the hardest part is what happens after that is determined. How do you help care for the pet or let your loved one know that they may need to move their pet to a new home for better care?
It can be devastating for an older adult to know that they can’t take care of a pet any longer. For one, it’s usually their loyal companion that keeps them company. Secondly, it’s extremely hard for them to realize that there is another aspect of their lives that they have lost control over. Both of these can be extremely depressing and hard to cope with for an elderly family member.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to visit daily to care for the pet and take them to appointments as needed. You’d also be able to afford a dog walker for them for when you’re not able to help. But it is not always that easy. Sometimes caring for your own self, your family, and the added responsibility of caring for an older family member can be all you can handle. And that’s when it can be time to find the pet a new home.
- Let them know it’s not their fault
- Involve them with the adoption process
- Try for an “open adoption” so they can get updates on their pet
- Set up visits if possible or look into service animals that visit the elderly
- Bring your own dog when you visit if possible
It is important to convey that they are not at fault and that giving up their pet is not a failure. That in fact, it is the best thing for them. Sometimes knowing that they are truly doing the best thing for their four-legged loved one will work wonders for their state of mind. It’s not an easy task, but it has to be done. It will be far easier removing the pet before something happens than having to put the pieces together after a tragedy.