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If you or a family member have been diagnosed with dementia, it isn’t essential that you give up caring for your beloved pet. In fact, research suggests that caring for a pet can be good for you! Pets are loyal companions that can provide structure, purpose and unconditional love. That said, certain precautions should be taken so that the pet, as well as the individual with dementia, are cared for in the best possible way.
Here are eight tips to caring for your pet if you have dementia:
Reminders can make all the difference in the world. Especially if you are having a hard time remembering to fill a pet’s water/food dish or take your pet outdoors, it is recommended that you set reminders for yourself. Either put post-it notes where you will see and read them regularly, or set alarms with notes about what the alarms are ringing to remind you. Ask a friend or family member to call and check in on you and your pet often.
Many pet groomers travel. In fact, some groomers prefer to travel around town in a van equipped to do house calls. Ask friends or family for groomer recommendations and find someone in the area who will come to you. No need for you to wrangle your pet in the tub any longer! In a matter of minutes, a professional groomer will have your pet squeaky clean and gussied to perfection.
As vets look to expand their patient list, many are willing to make house calls. If and when you need vet services, don’t hesitate to call and ask if the vet will come to you. Especially if your transportation options are limited, this could be a win/win for you and a vet willing to travel.
Maybe you have a grandchild or young family friend in the area who is looking to make a little cash. Consider hiring him or her to stop by and help with activities like dog walking or feeding. The young person will reap the benefits of work and pay while you will enjoy the benefits of assistance and peace of mind that your pet is receiving the right care. Bottom line: be sure to ask for help if you need it. There is no need to be ashamed to speak up on behalf of your pet.
If the situation requires more round-the-clock help than you or the person you love can provide on a daily basis, consider using a doggie daycare. Specifically look for a doggie daycare that offers pick-up and drop-off services, as this is an increasingly popular option. Many doggie daycare facilities are inexpensive and can shoulder the bulk of the daily responsibility while still allowing you or the person you love to spend regular, quality time with their favorite pet. Consider this: not only would doggie daycare help you meet the needs of your pet, but it would free your time during the day to take care of your own personal health without putting a pet at risk.
Meals on Wheels understands how important pets are to seniors, and have started a program to help provide pet food. If you or a family member qualifies for Meals on Wheels, you likely qualify for help with your pet, too. Check with your local Meals on Wheels program here to see if you qualify for pet care assistance.
Don’t be afraid to admit you know that you need help caring for your furry family member. Chances are, you will still be able (and encouraged) to keep your pet. The worst thing you can do if you need additional support … is nothing. Talk to your doctor, a trusted family member or a community resource officer about options for getting help. Many communities offer unique services that could benefit you and your pet.
If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with dementia and don’t yet live in a retirement or long-term care community, now may be the right time to start looking for a place. As you research your options, look for places that welcome pets. The good news? Many places are becoming increasingly pet-friendly … especially as research continues to communicate how good our furry friends are for our health and well-being!
Speaking of a pet-friendly retirement community, we would love for you to check out our newly constructed retirement community near Tampa, Florida. Tessera of Brandon is fresh, modern and designed to support your well-being. The apartments allow for maximum independence, while the community spaces keep you connected and engaged. Contact us today to learn more.