Pets and Senior Citizens: Talk to your parents about future plans for their pets

Pets and senior citizens can be inseparable. Your mother or father has turned to their pet for love, companionship, or maybe even a sense of purpose every day. After all, their pet is completely helpless and dependent and needs that care and attention from their owner. The benefits of pets and senior citizens together is well documented. If you are considering a gift for your parent of a new pet, there are many things to consider. You'll want to consider your parent's lifestyle and fitness level, where they live, personality, temperament and the like.

Many people naturally are drawn to puppies or kittens when they are considering a new pet for themselves or someone else. You may want to give your Mom or Dad a new focus for their time, but please think carefully before surprising them with that furry bundle of joy. Take the time to learn about what canine-kids really require.

Also, consider pet care finances

In today’s economy, more and more people have had to give up their pets because they can no longer afford their care. That’s a good reason to check in on your parents and initiate a conversation about their finances. Make sure there are no financial stresses with the rising costs of food, medicine and veterinary care. 

So what happens if the day comes when your parent can no longer take care of their pet?  Part of elder care planning with your aging parent should be to talk about the pets. Don’t just think about the end of life, what about emergencies? Considering the bond of pets and senior citizens, what if your parent has an extended illness, or a lengthy recuperation from surgery? What’s the plan for Felix and Fido?

Create an Emergency Plan

If you’re in the midst of dealing with some other emergency with your parent, you don’t want to compound the headaches by having to improvise on the care of your parent’s pets. 

You should have a conversation with your aging parents to get some details on the family animals, and figure out a Pet Care Plan -- short-term and long.

You need to know:

  • Name, nickname (cat, dog, bird…)
  • Breed, color, age
  • Food, feeding schedule, treats
  • Current medications, schedule and delivery method
  • Vet, emergency care hospital, general medical issues
  • Favorite toys and play routines
  •  General daily schedule, favorite sleeping spots, hiding spots
  • Characteristics and quirks
  • Known fears or triggers or bad habits
  • Regular sitters or walkers or boarding place

Seniors and Pets

Use this conversation about pets as a stepping stone to other planning conversations with your aging parents. As you continue to show care and compassion for your parents' situation and demonstrate that you are on the same team, you build trust and lay a foundation for even more difficult conversations about their future.