Aging Parents, Their Pets, and Long-Term Care

There’s no question that pets are family members that bring joy and comfort to us all, but particularly aging family members who have already lost a human companion. Indeed, an increasing number of assisted living facilities are becoming pet friendly–especially those offering independent living apartments. Skilled Nursing Facilities are bringing in pets on certain days for programs allowing residents to hold and play with animals on scheduled visits. There seems to be a special benefit for those with dementia.

But, pets and animals come with their risks also. Care must be taken to keep the situations under control to prevent accidental falls or other injuries. For those elders still in their homes, special consideration needs to be given for the situation especially where balance, diminished vision, and rambunctious pets can intermingle. Families may have to take over care for the pet and then bring it for visits. Pets too age and care needs to be taken that the pets aren’t lost in the fray of changes which occur when moving the elder to an ALF, SNF, or even when staying in the family home. If caregivers are contracted to come into the home, it is essential to include in the job description the caring for the family pets.

Cognitive decline can impair an elder’s ability to routinely care for a pet, despite their best intentions. So, just as we don’t want the pet inflicting unintentional harm on the elder, so too must we ensure the forgetful elder doesn’t wind up inflicting unintentional harm on the pet, such as forgetting regular food, water, and outside access for nature calls.

We plan for all these contingencies in our documents drafted and financial plans formulated to provide funding for the high costs of longevity. Contact us for your situation that requires thoughtful, comprehensive professional planning.

Dementia: Walking in the Shoes of a Caregiver

Dementia has devastating consequences on the patient to be sure. But, it’s toll on the caregiver can be just as great especially when they are giving never ending care. Dementia care is extensive and never ending. Some days it’s very hard. Often both patient and caregiver wonder, “Why, why am I here?” They may try and make light of it as best they can.  Although a caregiver may work outside of the home, they still must manage daily care for the person with dementia. They bathe their relative, help them in the bathroom, cook for the relative and manage the medicine.  But, it’s as if the caretaker’s life is not their own. It is hard. Naturally, the caretaker would like to go do things that other people might do, such as shopping and traveling. But the caregiver can’t do much of that anymore.  Even if the family is fortunate enough to have the financial and emotional support of other family members, they will still have to arrange for outside help several days a week. People who partner with caregivers say that’s the only way to survive it. It takes a toll on your body and your body will send out signals and those signals will lead to behavioral or emotional or physical stress that can affect who you are and what you are doing. Caregivers are at great risk of burnout which include social withdraw and irritability and health problems. To make time for themselves to get adequate sleep. The job of caring for dementia patient is a never ending, lonely task, especially as the disease progresses. Patience. A lot of patience. Dealing with personal care stuff. And — it’s hard.  There are accidents sometimes and the caregiver has no choice but to just suck it up and do it.

Many families struggle with the issues of care for dementia patients. If you are looking for ways to deal with caregiver stress, I’ve posted tips for you on my Facebook page, Atlanta Personal Family Lawyer and WRNichols Law.