Many seniors consider their pets to be part of their family. The companionship that an animal brings is often particularly important for those who have lost their spouse or who live alone. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention specifically credits pets with decreasing blood pressure, increasing socialization opportunities, and providing exercise for owners. New research out of Miami University of Ohio and St. Louis University found that pet owners were more physically fit and less fearful of basic daily stresses than those without animals.
The unique connection between owners and their animals is one of the key reasons that our state allows residents to create a New York pet trust as part of their estate plan to pass along resources for the care of their animals. In addition, senior pet owners can now receive varying degrees of assistance to help care for their animals in their golden years. Proper pet care is often daunting for seniors who struggle to get their animal to and from the vet, provide regular walks, and similar tasks. In the past, residents were often forced to give up their beloved animals when they were no longer able to provide them the care they needed on their own.
Fortunately, as Global Animal discussed in an article this morning, various services are now available to help senior pet owners keep their pets in their own home. For example, pet sitters are prevalent in most cities to help walk dogs, administer medication, and perform other aid. Many of these sitters double as veterinary technicians so they are often trained to catch animal illness that may not be noticed by the pet owner.
Similarly, some veterinarians actually make house calls for owners who have difficulty getting to the physical animal hospital. One veterinarian who performs such calls explained that visiting with an owner and animal in the home actually makes it easier for the professional to understand the animal’s lifestyle and provide suggestions for improving their health. The veterinarian noted that she believes seniors and their pets have a bond that other family members often don’t recognize. Her work making home visits is specifically geared to keeping that bond alive.
New York elder law estate planning involves preparations to keep community members in their preferred lifestyle for as long as possible. Part of that planning process may include ways for seniors to maintain their close connection with their animals. As one veterinarian at an animal clinic that caters to senior clients explained, “The last thing you want to do is take pets away. People live longer when they are around animals and are happier when they have that bond.”
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