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A Serious Question

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
OK..here's a serious question that has bothered me for awhile. At what point does a senior citizen become too old to have a pet. Now don't just knee-jerk react here...I'm not suggesting anything out of line. But there does come a time when no matter how much they love their friend they are incapiable of properly caring for them. They forget feedings or even forget they put their pet out on a stormy day.They most certainly love their pet..it may become their dearest friend;a substitute for children or a deceased spouse. But their mind has become unreliable.

Now it will break their heart if you take that pet away and they will certainly dispute their mental awareness. But the pet is being neglected.

So how do you handle this?? Ignore the problem and an animal suffers,take action and the senior suffers.

Let's hear your viewpoints..and please no smartass answers or flaming.
post #2 of 12
That is a very good question. I've often thought about it myself, but have no answer for you. I know that my great-grandmother was in her eighties and still taking care of her birds properly, she loved them very much but when she became ill and needed 24 hour nurse care in a nursing home a family member took the birds into their home and they are being taken care of. She knew that she had no choice and that it was best for them. Sadly, she is no longer with us but her birds are still chirping. Sorry I have no real answer for you.
post #3 of 12
Well I think that if a senior or any other person gets to where they are no longer able to care for the pet properly then that probably also means that they can no longer care for themselves right either. At that point in my opinion the best option would be to have a caretaker to see to both the human and the pet. But of course that is not always possible and sometimes the human will have to go to a home and the pets found new homes. I also know from experience that having to put someone in a home is an extremely hard thing to do. But the main thing is the health and safety of both. Of course knowing that you are doing it for their own good does not make it easier to do. It's a decision that I hope to never have to make again.

post #4 of 12
As a Health Care Aide I have cared for many elderly people in their homes and in nursing homes. I agree with Meme that if a person cant take care of their pet that they are probably not taking very good care of themselves.

Because an animal is dependant on the person it belongs to for shelter and food and affection if these needs are not being met the animal has to be looked after elsewhere.Unless of course there is a family member or friend willing to come in and take it all on. Unfortunaltly this is not always possible.

I have found though that a lot of elderly do better and thrive when they have a pet.
post #5 of 12
Well - this one is just up my alley...... MEOW!
I work with the elder population as a Caseworker for the County - This is a problem and a quandry that we deal with every day. As an animal lover - I try to see that all our Seniors have food and assistance with care and feeding. Mostly, my clients seem to have cats. The humane society assists us with food and our regular visits include feeding and care and attention. This is no substitute for their own human caring for them - but it does help. As it becomes necessary, we will remove the animals and / or the adults. Both hard choices and not done lightly. I firmly belive in dignity and respect for personal choices, so this decision is often made with the assistance of the elder involved. I have fed and cared for animals, in order to get the person to go into the hospital or temporary nursing care facilities - (much to the dismay of my boss) - You need to learn to be creative in this situation - always remembering that safety and wellbeing must come first for both the animals and their humans. Often that fur child is the only company these folks have and they are loved even if they are 'forgotten'by minds that are feeble and tired.
post #6 of 12
You know, I dont think there's a perfect age to say anyone is incapable of something. I have seen 60 year olds that were more forgetful than an 80 year old. I would hope that once one gets too old to properly care for a pet, that someone steps in to help them. Rene is really good at adopting cats to older people. She will never put a kitten with them, but will match them with an older cat. This way the kitten does not outlast the human.
post #7 of 12
I agree with Sandie that you cannot simply pick an age and assume that nobody older can care for their pets. Three of my grandparents lived into their 80s and had pets until the end. My Grandpa, the only one who was actually senile, had grown up on a farm so that even when he couldn't recognize his wife, caring for their cat was second nature. (He was so senile we used to drive him down to the registry of motor vehicles to renew his drivers' license, he didn't actually drive any more, it was about independence.)

I also think it's a shame that so many of our elders end up in homes. I know that sometimes there is no option. I guess we have been lucky in my family that there has always been somebody who was in a position in their life to become the primary caregiver. One of my uncles moved in with his mother and cared for her for 7 years, including dialysis 3 days a week and treatment for lupus. My Nana had a housekeeper 3 days a week (the daughter of her first housekeeper when my dad was a child), a daily visit from one uncle, and my aunt who was a flight attendent arranged her schedule to stay there several days each week. Walking the dog or cleaning the birdcage was just part of the package. But then none of my grandparents was physically incapacitated, which is a whole different story.
post #8 of 12
Kittyfoot....I think what meme said was absolutely right.

My mother, god bless her soul, lost her mind, 10 years before she died, and I would have hated to see her trying to take care of a pet alone...she couldn't remember where she was at, or who we were most of the time, let alone to feed and take care of a cat.
It is wonderful for elderly people to have cats or dogs as pets, to help ease the lonliness, but when they can no longer take care of themselves, or the pets....something needs to be done...for both their sakes.
post #9 of 12
This is a tough one to answer. Here's my opinion:
I think that once a person become incapable of caring for themselves, then they shouldn't have a pet to care for. But, then again, it's like Elinor said, older people thrive with a pet. If they are capable to care for a pet, then by all means let them have one, but if it comes to the point where they are unable to care for themselve and the pet suffers, then no, they shouldn't have one. It would be cool if there were volunteers for elderly people to come in and take care of their pets (feeding, etc). This way the person isn't suffering, and the pet isn't suffering?
post #10 of 12
My grand-pa is 89 years old and still living by himself in his own house. He is also taking care of my granny's cat, 8 years after my granny died. Both are striving. But I think this is exceptionnal.

Myself, I think that I will be very, very old, I will not have any pets for fear that when something happens to me, that nobody will take care of my cats and that is a thought that appals me... Thinking I might die and my cats abandonned is a thought that I can't support.

By my own experience, it is very good for elderly people to have pets (of any kind): not only the pets love them but also they force their human to do things. If it's a dog for instance, he will need to be taken on a walk, and so the human also will do some exercise... if i't a cat, he will ask to be petted...

There are hospitals where we can take animals to visit the patients and it's very good to them... (Not in Portugal of course!, but I heard it has be done somewhere...)

post #11 of 12
I fear, too, that when I am old and by myself no one will take care of my animals. And, I hope that is never the case. Anne-Claire does have a very good point about an elderly person owning a dog/cat... it forces them to do something, like exersise. Even petting a cat or dog or any kind of animal is known to relieve stress, etc.
post #12 of 12
I think I will make a will and appoint a trusted guardian for my cats (providing the money for their keep as well). Like others have said, it's hard to set a biological age limit - each person is different. I know some 20 years old I wouldn't trust with a pet!
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