The love and companionship of a pet is incomparable, as anyone who has ever had pets surely knows. A pet can ease the loneliness of seniors who live at home or in assisted living; as a result, many senior living communities have integrated pet therapy programs, have amended their policies to allow residents to have pets (within certain limitations), or have adopted a “community” pet (dogs, cats, fish, bunnies, birds) whose company the staff, residents and visitors can enjoy.
Sadly, dementia or other age-related limitations (diminished sight/failing vision, mobility challenges, forgetfulness) may steal the joy of having a pet. This article from Agingcare.com speaks to the question: What Happens When Elders Can No Longer Care for Their Pets? Several options and recommendations are presented, including adopting the animal out to a friend or talking to the vet about assistance.
It’s extremely difficult to separate a pet and his owner, but if your senior relative is forgetting to provide fresh water and food each day, leaving the door ajar, or falling behind on other things that could affect the animal’s well-being, you may need to step in and suggest a plan B.
Whatever you decide, be sensitive to the difficulty of such a decision and proposed separation, particularly when the pet has been part of your loved one’s life for years.