When making the transition into long-term care or assisted living, one of your top concerns is the mental health and well-being of your loved one. Studies have shown that owning a pet has many positive effects on mental and physical health. The emotional bond people form with their pets can even increase longevity. It is no surprise that most people want to bring their beloved animal companion with them when they move into a nursing home or other assisted living residence.
However, bringing an animal into a nursing home facility carries some risks along with the multiple benefits. Recently, researchers reviewed 95 nursing homes in Ohio to discover the real-world results of having pets in a long-term care facility. If you are deciding whether to move a pet into a nursing home, here are some issues to consider:
1. Make sure you know the facility’s policies and protocols surrounding pets
It is good to ask questions about the facility’s procedures for training staff to handle animals, as well as the policy covering supervision over the residents with mental disabilities such as dementia when interacting with animals. This information helps protect the safety of both the animal and the residents.
2. Research the health risks that might accompany your pet
Dogs, cats or reptiles can transmit certain diseases and infections to humans. Make sure your loved one is aware of safe ways to interact with animals that do not carry the risk of a costly illness.
3. Make an emergency plan that includes your pet
Just as you plan the financial details of caring for a pet, it is smart to plan for the care of a pet during a health emergency or other situation that requires your loved one to quickly leave the nursing home. Dealing with these details at the last minute can add unnecessary hardship for your loved one, the animal or the staff of the nursing home.