Hospices Begin Offering Animal Therapy–and Allowing Personal Pets to Visit
Here’s an interesting question to add to your hospice checklist: Do you offer dogs?
Some hospice programs are providing animal therapy these days. Facilities are even allowing personal pets to visit. The Herald-Dispatch reports here about one such hospice program in Huntington, W.V.
An animal visit “brings back memories of good things, of pets and children and the happy times in our lives,” says one volunteer in the article.
“A lot of these people have gotten to the stage where they’ve shut down emotionally or physically and there’s something magical about a dog that helps them be able to open back up a little.”
The trade publication Social Work Today reported on this trend earlier this year. One social worker recounted:
“I was once called by a caregiver when a patient whom I had seen several times was quite agitated and near death,” Howie says. “I brought the therapy dog and carefully placed the dog on the patient’s bed. The patient stopped thrashing, sat up in bed, and petted the dog for several minutes. Then she opened her eyes and spoke quite clearly, ‘Thank you for bringing Merlin [the dog’s name].” The patient died a few hours later.
If your parent needs help caring for a pet while in hospice, a program called Pet Peace of Mind helps hospices do that. It’s only available in a few places though.
If you have any questions about this post or need help finding senior-care options for a loved one, call 1-866-483-4896 to speak with a care advisor in your area.