Your parents need more help than they’re willing to admit. They bristle at the thought of elder care services and independent living programs, and they have fired all the in-home helpers and housekeepers you’ve hired for them. How might you prevail upon them to accept some assistance? Ask them about their pets.
They surely want the best for their animals and might be willing to let somebody take their dog for an occasional romp or change the litter box a couple of times a week.
Pet owners often make decisions about their own health and circumstances based on the impact the decisions would have on their pets. “I can’t go into the hospital over night for the test the doctor ordered-who would feed and walk Fluffy?” Your parents might welcome assistance that would make it easier to keep the animal at home and in good health and spirits. And, accepting help for the pet is easier than admitting you need help yourself. Still, help is help, and accepting help for the pet is a face-saving way to ease in to help for oneself.
There are various dog walking and pet sitting services, and some are fully bonded and insured. Local animal shelters and veterinary practices have referral lists. Neighbors with pets probably have recommendations too. A responsible teenage neighbor looking for pocket money might also be a good resource.
When was the last time your parents’ pet went to the vet for an exam and shots? Getting an animal into a carrier is hard enough for many pet owners in the prime of their-and their pet’s-life. It may well be impossible for your parents to catch the cat, put it in the carrier and carry the carrier to the car they shouldn’t be driving anyway.
The way to make assistance tolerable is to get clear and detailed information about what your parents want help with and how they want to be helped. Starting with a topic they’re willing to consider, help with a trip to the vet, you can follow this good experience with others like help with shopping and eventually with in-home help.
Do your parents want help with:
• Walking the pet
• Feeding and watering the pet
• Cleaning up after the pet, inside or out
• Getting the pet ready to go to the vet
• Taking the pet to the vet
• Staying with the pet if your parent is out of town or in the hospital?
No matter how experienced the provider of eldercare services is, he/she cannot anticipate each client’s preferences and may not ask in sufficient detail to get adequate information. Use these questions to help your parents get clear on exactly what they want help with and how they want to be helped, and to train the helper so he/she can provide elder care services they will accept.