Ageing Australians are often forced to leave their pets behind when moving into an aged care home.
When you begin the journey of accessing aged care support services, remember to consider the options that are out there for you and your pet. You can click here to access a list of questions to help guide you, when beginning to look into aged care support services.
Sometimes our pets are our best and/ or only companions. They are a great way of combatting social isolation and loneliness. When looking into home care, there are some options available to support you in caring for your pet.
Keeping my pet at home with me
There are service providers offering in-home care support for pets. In saying that, ageing Australians receiving in home care are limited by available services that support keeping and caring for their pets.
According to The Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA), only 9 per cent of in-home aged care providers offers pet-friendly services.
When you are looking at available in home aged care support services, be sure to ask providers what support is available to aid you with caring for your pet.
If you are receiving aged care support services in the home, and you have a pet that you are caring for, also consider a plan for your pet if you’re ever unavailable to look after them.
Talk with family, friends, and neighbours and ask if they would be able to help to look after your pet if you have to go away (e.g. to hospital).
Also consider that life changing events can happen, and in some circumstances, you might not be able to care for your pet anymore, or you might have to relocate.
Limitations for re-housing pets, and Animal Welfare
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to keep your pet with you when you move into an aged care home. You might have become too frail to care for your pet any longer.
The move could also impact on your financial ability to care for your pet. Also consider that some pets might not be appropriate for an aged care home due to size (e.g. large dog) or noise (e.g. a parrot).
In several cases, the move into an aged care home can be immediate and without warning due to unforeseen circumstances relating to changes in health status and other circumstances.
If your pet’s been your greatest companion, It’s a difficult time when you have to part.
Some people are fortunate enough to have their beloved pet re-homed with other family members or friends. But for many, it is an all too familiar scenario to have to say goodbye to your pet, and have it sent to a shelter or even euthanised.
It’s challenging to part with your pet, however, always remember that your welfare and the welfare of your animal are the priority.
Bringing your pet to your new home
For older Australians, reducing loneliness can bring about greater quality of life. It’s widely known that pet ownership creates happiness and adds to overall wellbeing.
It makes sense to bring your pet with you if you are moving into an aged care home.
The AWLA encourages aged care service providers to include pet friendly services, to allow ageing Australians to remain with their pets. A 2017 study by the AWLA found that only 18% of residential aged care homes allowed live in pets.
Shop around if you are able to, for aged care homes that allows pets.
Benefits of being allowed to keep your pet with you
The benefits of allowing pets to live in residential aged care are extensive. Firstly, it can ease the stress of the move, knowing that you can keep your animal with you. By keeping your pet with you, you will likely feel less lonely, and less anxious. Pets keep you stimulated, and help you to maintain your independence.
As Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, it is alarming that such a small number of aged care providers support pets in aged care.
Pet ownership and aged care support services solutions
According to the AWLA, there are several factors impacting on allowing pet ownership in aged care. Providers can be concerned about legal and safety impacts. Additionally, there’s concerns for allowing pets in homes due to lack of funding, as well as staff shortages.
In many cases the aged care providers are relying on volunteers to assist with pet care.
At the end of the day, there are providers out there offering the aged care support services that you’re seeking. Aged Care Prepare can provide information to support you in choosing the provider/ home that is right for you.