Hospice Care has played a vital role in the lives of terminal patients and their families for several years. Now, it does much more. Hospice Care for man and dog is an option in some locations.
We all know how important pets are for all of us. This is especially true for the elderly. Dogs give their human companions a sense of responsibility.
They also prevent them from feeling lonely. Because taking care of an animal requires some physical activity, it improves the health of the human as well.
Having a dog brings joy as well as both mental and physical benefits to the older person. That is until the person is no longer able to provide the needed care and attention the dog deserves.
As they age and become more fragile, having a dog becomes difficult. It becomes more challenging to keep up the level of canine care they need to provide.
If they live alone and develop a serious illness, or approach the end of their life, they have another problem as well. They may have difficulty finding someone to care for their beloved dog. Can you imagine how comforting it would be to have hospice care for man and dog?
With all of the mental, physical, and financial problems facing them, they do not need another challenge. Worrying about what will happen to their dogs when they are hospitalized or sent to hospice is very stressful.
Many people develop a relationship with their dog that is similar to one with another human. Their bond may be like that of a close friend or a family member. If so, leaving them behind can be detrimental to a person’s health and well-being.
Our Furry Friends May Be Ignored
Family members may be overwhelmed when a loved one is in hospice. If that is the case or if they are grieving over their loss, the dog is often overlooked. They do not intentionally ignore the dog, but the result is the same.
Sadly, both dogs and humans lose out when this happens. They have strong bonds and need to see one another. Dogs can play a significant role in the end-of-life care of their humans if allowed to do so.
One Organization Recognizes the Need to Keep the Elderly and Their Dogs Together, Even in Hospice
Pet Peace of Mind ensures that members of the family recognize the importance of including the dog in end-of-life (EOL) care planning. When the elderly cannot care for their furry friends, someone needs to make sure that they are not overlooked. Ensuring their dog is cared for is vital for both the person and their beloved dog.
Dianne McGill, president of the organization, reminds us that dogs are fantastic at helping patients deal with their anxiety and fears. Ms. McGill says that many patients claim that their dog “saved my life” just by being a part of it.
Many patients claim that one of the most critical elements of EOL care is having their dog with them. They need them close by and know that their best friends need them as well. While having the dogs close by comforts them, they have other concerns as well.
They are stressed out with worries about their dogs. Who would care for them while they were ill? If the illness proved to be terminal, who would care for them when they passed on? Why can’t there be hospice care for man and dog?
At Least in Some Places, There is Hospice Care for Man and Dog
Until recently, there was no organized approach to tackle this problem. Everyone was left on their own to solve the problem. Thankfully, Pet Peace of Mind, an Oregon based non-profit organization exists.
They do a great job of helping those who worry about their dogs in such situations. Whether during a person’s recovery or when in Hospice for EOL care, PPOM is there for them.
Pet Peace of Mind provides educational services and assists in support of dogs in very practical ways. Hospitals, home health, palliative care, and hospice organizations are included in this program. They are taught the importance of dogs playing an active role in the lives of their dying owners.
This unique organization offers a full-service approach to assisting the medical care establishment. This assistance includes setting up a local program to train volunteers. Volunteers who take furry family members to spend time with terminally ill patients provide an essential service.
Having someone to take care of their dog now or in the future is a great relief for these elderly or ill patients. These patients enjoy interacting with their dogs. However, knowing that someone is taking care of their dog is even more important to them.
Volunteers to take the dog of a person who can no longer care for them are extraordinary people, as well. Sometimes, they provide temporary foster care for these dogs. Other times, they adopt the dogs permanently and give them a forever home.
Ms. McGill tells us that a significant number of patients want to have their dogs with them in their final days. However, ensuring that their dog will have a home once they have passed is also vitally important.
This is critical for the patient’s peace of mind. One of the best ways to help our elderly or terminally ill friends is by helping to plan for their dog’s future.
When You Can No Longer Care for Your Canine Companion, What Do You Do?
It is always best to make plans in advance, when possible. A friend or family member who already knows your dog and is willing to adopt them, if necessary, is the best option. However, this is not always an option available to everyone.
Regardless of who eventually takes your dog into their home, someone must have access to your home even to feed your dog. Be sure someone knows he is there and can get inside to him. Leave a fact sheet with important details about your dog and how to reach his vet.
Even if none of your family or friends can adopt your dog, they may be able to provide foster care until a permanent home can be found. Make a “preferred” list of dog rescue groups in your area. This list would be beneficial if none of your family or friends can take your dog into their home.
Your dog’s vet needs to know your wishes as well as to whom you want his records released. Even if the person you authorize to receive the documents will not be the one to adopt him, they can share the information with them.
Someone needs to have the legal right to access these records to provide better health care for the dog once you are gone.
Some people include their dogs in their will. It may or may not include financial support to care for the dog, as in a legal trust. Most of us do not have enough money to make this worthwhile.
However, mentioning them does indicate to everyone how important it is to you for your dog to be cared for once you are no longer there to do so. It is an excellent way to make sure as many details about his likes and dislikes, habits, health concerns, vet records, etc. are made available to those who will need it.
When Choosing Someone to Adopt Your Dog When You Are Gone, Keep in Mind That Birds of a Feather block Together
Senior canines are great companions for senior citizens and vice versa. Seniors can provide a loving rescue home, especially for a senior dog. Not only might an older person feel as though they have something in common with an older dog, but these dogs are also less demanding in many ways.
Older dogs require less training and are usually less energetic than a younger dog. Sometimes, the fit between an older human and an older dog is quite obvious to all concerned.
Dogs Improve the Health of Their Elderly Human Companions
You are likely aware of the many ways that dogs improve the lives of their elderly companions. Some of these are:
- Staying Active
- Relief From Some Symptoms of Dementia
- Mood Improvement
At The End of The Day
None of us like to dwell on our end of life moments, but we sometimes need to do so. Making plans for the canine companions we have brought into our homes and lives is important.
Everyone owes their canine companions a loving and safe home when they can no longer give them one. Knowing they will have that home gives you a great sense of relief.
If you must be in a hospital or hospice for EOL care, having your dog at your side can be comforting. Hopefully, there will be an organization like PPOM in your area to make this option available to you. If there is no organization like this in your community now, there may be time to encourage one to be created.
If this is not a possibility, perhaps you can locate a facility that will allow frequent canine visitation. Secondly, you need to have a home lined-up for your companion anyway. Hopefully, this person or another who cares about you will provide transportation for these visits.
Like insurance policies, we hope we never need to use these plans. However, it is much better to have these plans in place and not need them than it is to need them but not have them. Better safe than sorry.
Making it possible for dogs to spend time with their owners who are in hospice is a beautiful idea. Helping people find a future home for their furry family members before they die is an essential service.
Share this post if you think that this service needs to available everywhere!
Allowing dogs to say their final farewell is vitally important. Here is a touching story of how one family handled this delicate situation. https://happymutt.org/dog-says-his-last-goodbye-to-his-best-friend-in-the-most-heartbreaking-way/
Thanks to our friends at petsnap: https://www.petsnap.net/hospice-looks-after-pets-of-sick-and-old-patients/
Additional Photos courtesy of Pixabay