Most of the time, when we think of an advance healthcare directive, we mean a form that gives a friend or family member the power to make healthcare decisions for us in the event that we become incapable of making those decisions for ourselves. But who’s going to make decisions for your loved one’s pet if they become incapacitated?
Pets can make our lives so much more fulfilling, and can even help ease anxiety in those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. But if their owner dies or becomes too sick to take care of them, they’re too often repaid for their loyalty by getting locked in a cage in a shelter, where they may or may not ever find another home. Fortunately, there’s a way you can make sure your loved ones’ pet avoids such a fate.
Ask Your Loved One About Their Preferences
It’s never an easy conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one. In addition to talking with them about what kind of healthcare decisions they want to be made for themselves if they ever reach a point of being unable to make their own decisions, ask them what kinds of decisions they would like done for their pet. In addition to managing who gets the pet when the owner can no longer take care of them, you should also ask them what they want done in case the animal becomes extremely ill. How much and what kind of care would they like for the animal, and at what point would they deem it best to put it out of its misery?
Make a Plan
While talking with your loved one about their wishes for their pet is a great first start, the next step is to start putting together a plan. That means thinking about things like: who’s going to take care of the pet after your loved one is gone? How much money will they set aside for the pet’s care? Where will that money come from? Whom do they trust to take care of their pet and their pet’s money? Do they have a backup caregiver in case something happens to the first person they choose to take care of their pet? Would they prefer to have those people work together to take care of the pet, or leave the care of the pet to one of them at a time?
Put It in Writing
Again, talking is great, but it doesn’t beat putting it down in writing. If your loved one’s health deteriorates quickly, you’ll be absorbed with everything that comes with dealing with that and the pet will probably be the last thing on your mind – but someone will still need to take care of it eventually (how soon depends on the kind of pet, since dogs will probably need to be walked and/or fed within a few hours, while cats and fish can wait a little longer).
Relying on memory at such an emotional time is risky at best. If you already have it in writing in the form of an advance healthcare directive for their pet, then you have something to refer to that tells you what your loved one wants done with their beloved pet while you deal with their health.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.
CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.