Update on Sophie, the New Board & Care Resident
Last week I listed my concerns about Sophie the cat moving in with her owner, “P,” the new resident at my mom’s board & care facility. I’m pleased to report it is not a CATastrophe at all!
Here are the results of the Action Steps I took:
- The Residency, Service and Admission Agreement we signed when my Mom moved in has a Pet Policy: “It is the policy of the facility to allow cats, small dogs and birds into the facility on a case-by-case basis with the following provisions: Current vaccinations and a veterinary health clearance for the pet. All expenses incurred for pet care are the responsibility of the resident or responsible party.” This clearly states the new resident is within her rights to bring Sophie to live with her.
- I called the board & care’s Family Services Director and voiced my concerns about pet allergies, and they agreed that I had a valid point. Luckily none of the residents or caregivers at my Mom’s board & care are allergic to Sophie. However, the Diector agreed that in the future the allergy question must be addressed before a new resident moves into any one of their facilities. She didn’t have a solution about my son (who is allergic to cats) visiting his grandmother during vacations, but we will tackle that question in the future. We live in southern California, so they could possibly visit outside on the patio providing the weather cooperates.
- Other residents’ families were somewhat concerned about the cat roaming the house, but also felt we should take a “wait and see” attitude about it. As of today, we haven’t seen the cat outside “P’s” room during our visits there, so Sophie probably won’t be running around potentially startling the other ladies or causing them to trip over her.
- The four caregivers that have been on duty since Sophie moved in all say that the cat stays in “P’s” room 95% of the time and they can easily get her to return if she runs out. “P” has been feeding her and “P’s” son has been changing the litter box, so they do not feel having Sophie there is an additional burden on them.
I’m really pleased to say it looks like most of my concerns were “wasted worrying.”
I’ve gone into “P’s” room to visit with her a few times, and Sophie is usually curled up contentedly on “P’s” bed or easy chair. The positives Sophie brings to “P” (and potentially the other residents) by far outweigh any issues I had with her initially.
Welcome to your new home, Sophie! And I’m not kitten! 🙂
Animal-Assisted Therapy Programs
Some of my readers commented about pet therapy programs (or animal-assisted therapy) for residents in assisted living, board & care houses, and/or nursing homes. These programs send volunteers and their pets to visit the residents on a regular basis and provide many wonderful benefits for our Golden Oldies.
A bond formed between a senior citizen and an animal companion helps to:
- Lower stress levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Provide unconditional love
- Provide nonjudgmental support
- Increase social interactions
- Decrease agitation in Alzheimer’s disease patients
- Decrease loneliness and increase morale
- Encourage playfulness and laughter
- Satisfy the need for touch and to be touched
Who could ask for anything more?!
For further information about animal-assisted therapy programs, contact Delta Society, an international nonprofit organization whose goal is to improve human health through service and therapy animals. Their web site covers in depth the health benefits of animals, how to become involved in the Pet Partners Therapy Program, the National Service Dog Center, as well as pet loss and bereavement topics.
You can always create an informal pet therapy program by simply bringing your own pets to visit your Golden Oldies on occasion. And don’t be surprised if your pets enjoy it as much as your parents or grandparents do. Our dog, Shyanne, now runs to the front door when I say “Let’s go visit Grandma Aida!” She knows she’s in for tons of attention, petting, and dog treats from all the residents there!
Therapy Pets: The Animal-Human Healing Partnership by Jacqueline J. Crawford, Karen A. Pomerinke, and Donald W. Smith
The Healing Powers of Pets: Harnessing the Amazing Ability of Pets to Make and Keep People Happy and Healthy by Marty Becker