One of the questions that family members of a dementia patient often face is whether or not to keep their loved one’s pets. Pets can provide much-needed companionship and support, but as the disease progresses, they may also become a source of anxiety or frustration for the patient, not to mention that it may become dangerous for the pet or its owner.
How do you take a pet away from a dementia patient? Talk to the person’s doctor to assess if the time is right. Be respectful and considerate of your loved one’s feelings. Involve them in the decision and find a new home for the pet before removing it from the home. Lastly, explore alternatives, such as pet therapy visits or spending time with the pets of family or friends.
Taking away a pet from a dementia patient can be a difficult decision, but it’s sometimes necessary in order to keep both the patient and the pet safe. If you’re considering taking the pet away, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before taking any action.
In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the ways pets can help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s, the best ways to remove a pet from a home if a dementia patient can no longer continue to care for the pet, and the actual process involved in doing so.
Let’s get to it!
How Do Pets Help Dementia Patients?
Dementia is a general term for an impairment in brain function and a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but there are many other types as well. Dementia affects people of all ages, but is most common in older adults.
For people with dementia, pets can help reduce anxiety and depression. The act of petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, releasing endorphins that have calming effects. Pets can also help take the focus away from negative thoughts and emotions.
Undeniably, having a companion pet can be a good idea for elderly folks with dementia because they have lots of positive effects on their owners:
- They help to increase social interactions and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Pets also provide non-judgmental, unconditional love and companionship.
- Pets can help to increase levels of physical activity, leading to improved overall health.
- Pet ownership can help to ease anxiety and agitation levels. Studies have shown that interacting with animals can release feel-good hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain. These hormones can help to improve mood, relieve stress, and promote relaxation. Even having something as simple as watching a fish aquarium can be soothing.
- Care of the pet can provide a sense of purpose and routine.
- Pet care can encourage physical activity, which is important for overall health and well-being. Walking a dog or playing with a cat is a good way to help increase strength and stamina. Also, studies show that regular walks are an effective way to improve sleep in someone who suffers from poor sleep quality.
- Pets can help stimulate memory and conversation.
Why Should A Pet Be Taken Away From A Dementia Patient?
Let’s face it, dementia can be a difficult disease to manage, not only for the person suffering from it, but also for their loved ones.
In the early stages of dementia, older people may be able to maintain their quality of life. However, as the disease progresses, patients may become increasingly forgetful, confused, and agitated.
There are a few things to consider before taking a pet away from dementia or Alzheimer’s patients.
First thing – is the pet truly in danger? If the pet is not in danger, then it may be best to keep them together. Pets can provide companionship and comfort to their owners, and taking them away may cause more harm than good.
That said, there are several reasons why it might be in the best interest of everyone involved if you took a pet away from a person with dementia.
One reason is that the person may no longer be able to care for the pet properly.
This could mean that they are not able to feed or water the pet on a daily basis, or that they are not able to provide the pet with adequate exercise or keep a cat’s litter box clean. If the pet isn’t being properly cared for, this can lead to health problems for both the pet and the person with dementia.
Another reason for taking a pet away from a person with dementia is if the pet is causing their anxiety or agitation levels to increase. For example, if the person becomes afraid of the pet, or if the pet is constantly barking, chewing, or having accidents in the home, this can make things more difficult for everyone involved.
Or, maybe the pet is in danger. To illustrate = if the person with dementia is leaving the pet outside in extreme weather conditions, this can pose a serious or life threatening risk to the pet.
It can also place the person in danger if they realize what has happened and go outside to retrieve their furry friend in the midst of a blizzard or other adverse weather condition.
What Should I Consider Before Taking A Pet Away From A Dementia Patient?
Before making the decision to take a pet away from a dementia patient, consider the following questions:
1. Does the patient live alone or with family/roommates?
2. How well does the person currently care for their pets?
3. Are there any signs that the patient is neglecting their pets or not providing proper care?
4. Has the patient recently been hospitalized?
5. Will they be moving into memory care or an assisted living facility soon?
6. Have there been any changes in the patient’s mental or physical health that may impact their ability to care for pets?
7. Does the person have a plan in place for what will happen to their pets if they can no longer care for them?
8. Are there family or friends who are willing and able to take on the responsibility of caring for these pets?
9. Is there a pet rescue or other organization that can take in the patient’s pets?
If you are considering taking a pet away from a dementia patient, the most important thing is to weigh all of the factors involved. Ultimately, the decision should be made based on what is best for both the person with dementia and the pet.
How To Go About Taking A Pet Away From Someone With Dementia
Before you take someone’s pet away “just” because they have a diagnosis of dementia, it is important to talk to their doctor or other health care professional first.
They will be able to assess the situation and make recommendations about what is best for both the dementia patient and the pet. Other family members or their dementia caregiver can give their input, as well.
It is also important to consider the person with dementia’s wishes and feelings about taking away their pet. If possible, involve them in the decision-making process and try to find a solution that works for everyone involved.
Once you have gathered all of the necessary information and have decided the pet should be removed from your senior’s care, you must make a plan for how to carry it out.
This plan should include how the pet will be rehomed and how your loved one will be told about the situation.
Steps To Take:
- Choose a calm time to talk about the situation.
- Explain the reasons why this decision has been made.
- Offer reassurance that the pet will be well cared for. If possible, try to find a new home for the pet with someone your senior knows and trusts before you even tell them what will be happening. This can help to ease the transition and provide some comfort.
- Allow your loved one to say goodbye to their pet in their own way.
- Carefully consider how the person will react to this change and be prepared for a potential negative reaction. Have a plan in place to help your senior cope with the loss of their pet, both during the process of rehoming the animal and afterwards.
- If possible, provide the person with alternative forms of companionship. A good option can be visits with therapy dogs or regular visits from family members and friends who have pets. Depending on whether your loved one is in the later stages of Alzheimer or dementia, a stuffed animal or robot dog can actually take the place of a live animal.
- Lastly, you will need to find a new home for the pet. This way, your senior will know that their pet is being taken care of and will not be left alone. If a friend or family member will be taking the pet, try to make arrangements for them to visit the senior with the pet from time to time. This way, your loved one can take comfort that the pet isn’t completely gone from their lives, even though it won’t be living with them anymore.
Read our article on Therapy Dolls (Pets too) and the great benefits they provide.
When you go through the physical process of removing the pet, please be sure to do so in a way that is respectful and considerate of your senior’s feelings.
We all get attached to our furry companions and removing the animal from anyone’s home can be a difficult and emotional experience. Try to provide the person with support after the pet is gone.
Keep in mind that you may need to explain many times to your loved one why rehoming the pet was necessary and assure them that their pet will be well cared for.
If the person reacts negatively to the news, try to distract them with another activity or conversation. It is important to maintain a calm and positive demeanor throughout this difficult process.
Keep in mind that taking a pet away from a dementia patient can be a very difficult decision, and one that should not be taken lightly. People with cognitive decline often benefit from having a pet. Their furry friends can provide companionship, love, and support during difficult times.
However, as their disease process continues to progress, it may become too difficult for the person to care for their pet properly.
In these cases, it is best to remove the pet from the home in order to prevent any potential harm to either the pet or to the person. By approaching the situation with care and sensitivity, you can help make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved.
If you are unsure about whether or not taking a pet away from a dementia patient is the right decision, it may be helpful to speak with a doctor or professional who can offer additional guidance.