People love their pets and seniors in particular can benefit from the companionship of a furry friend. But there are also ongoing responsibilities with pet ownership and some safety risks for older adults with animals. And if the older adult needs to move to senior living, can the beloved pet go too? Your senior care organization can help older adults and their family members understand their options and make the best decisions when it comes to pets in senior care.
Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company
- Contact your local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or county animal shelter and speak to an expert about pet ownership by older adults. You could turn the conversation into a Q&A article, or you could include quotes from the expert in an overview or tip article you produce. They may even have a special program you could highlight, such as a “Seniors for Seniors” (older adults adopting older cats and dogs) program, like this Seniors for Seniors in Richmond, VA or one that has discounts and other services for seniors seeking pet ownership, like this SPCA in Sacramento, CA.
- Compile a list of tips to help seniors (and their family caregivers) be responsible and safe pet owners. Make sure they understand the fall risks of having dogs and cats running around under and near their feet, and include resources they can turn to for support with pet care (including products and services that add conveniences and added safety, such as gates for keeping the pet in a certain area, or electronic cat boxes that clean themselves frequently, etc.).
- While cats and dogs are the most common and most popular types of pets, consider an “alternative pets for seniors” list that might include: birds, fish, geckos, even robotic pets. These can provide the stimulation and companionship of pet ownership, with less maintenance and fall risk.
Content Tips for Senior Living Communities
- Does your senior living community allow pets? Be sure that you highlight that fact on your online profiles in senior living directories, on your website, and on your social media profiles as well. It can be a real draw for a senior who currently owns a pet and is hesitant to consider senior living for that reason.
- If your community does have residents with pets, or there’s a shared pet or two for the entire community: you could do a profile on one or two of them, or a photo collection of all of them (perhaps even a photo contest where your Facebook fans pick their favorite resident pet photos). Images of cats and dogs are quite engaging in social media, and who doesn’t love to see their beloved fur baby in the spotlight? You could even get really creative and come up with a funny Q&A with the various pets — imagining (and crafting quotes for) what they’re thinking about the various aspects of your senior living community. You might even attach a GoPro camera to a resident dog for a day or two — to see the community as the dog does and possibly create a funny short video about this ‘tour taker’.
- If your community doesn’t allow pets as residents: Consider collaborating with a local animal organization that can bring pets to the community as visitors from time to time for “pet therapy,” such as Wags for Hope does in Frederick, Maryland. Then do a write-up about the visit with lots of lovely photos (showing only those seniors who have given permission for use of their likeness and/or showing only the pets in laps or with hands petting them).
Content Tips for Home Care Agencies
- Does your agency include help with pet care in its services? If so, consider highlighting that fact on your online profiles in senior living directories, on your website, and on your social media profiles as well. If possible: include a story from a current or past client who benefited greatly from this type of in-home care support. Comfort Keepers in Eason, Maryland did something like this by highlighting several ways that an in-home care agency can help with pet care.
Caring Resources to Support this Spark
- Pets in Assisted Living — 5 Reasons to Take Your Pet With You
Additional Resources to Support this Spark
- New York Times – The New Old Age: Rethinking the Value of Pets
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — Elderly People in Many Respects Benefit from Interactions with Dogs
- American Humane Society — Cats & Seniors
Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the January 2017 Content Sparks.
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