How Pet Therapy Can Benefit Assisted Living Seniors

dog-200942_1280Pet therapy is a relatively new treatment for seniors in assisted living situations. Generally, pets offer comfort and companionship to their owners while being a part of the family. Owning a pet can add new life to a senior, giving them a reason to keep active all while reducing stress and improving their general health. There are some guidelines you should be aware of before getting a pet for a senior, or having a senior interact with an animal, and how they can add a natural sense of nurturing to the person.

Pet therapy isn’t approved at all assisted living communities, but seniors can always reap the benefits of having an animal around. Approved handlers will either bring dogs, cats, or more recently, bunnies! Pets add an emotional bond that can really bring out the joy of a senior, as well as keeping them in positive spirits. Some seniors may feel comfort interacting with the animal, maybe talking to the handler about the pets they’ve owned of current pets, or just like the comfort of having an animal around. Owning a pet can add another dimension as the person can ultimately bond with the animal and give them a resolve to care for the animal.

If a loved one is currently in assisted living in Sacramento or if you are considering your options, pet therapy would be a great way to keep in a better mood and improve their overall health!

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When should one consider a nursing home or assisted living?

Nursing homes provide the highest levels of care, both medical and custodial. If you’re not sure that you or your loved one needs that level of care for the long-term, learn more about other types of senior housing, including In-Home care by contacting one of our highly trained Senior Advocates to see what will best fit your needs.

In one of the following circumstances, one should consider assisted living:

Mental Health: Depression, anxiety, psychosis or dementia

Physical Health: The risk of falls may be too great, chronic diseases or physical disability that cause difficulty performing activities of daily living (ADL’s) walking, dressing, bathing, and preparing meals. Danger of wandering off or forgetting about the hot stove.

Support systems: Caregivers are often juggling work, their own family responsibilities, and their own health. It is not possible for one person to be awake and responsible 24-hours a day. Lack of a support system, such as family and friends who can be called in an emergency and are able to assist in their needs. In-Home care services can also provide support a caregiver needs.

Finances: Difficulty in managing financial obligations.

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Survey Discusses Long-Term Elder Care Experiences

The world of caregiving and elder care is always changing with each new generation. If you’re a caregiver yourself or have an aging loved one, you might be wondering how other people like you are feeling about the current state of elder care in the U.S.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research recently released their research from a survey that sought to ask these very questions. Specifically, their study aimed to gauge Americans’ views on aging and caregiving, as well as provide suggestions for how to improve long-term elder care. The findings were quite interesting and dynamic.

To start, the study showed that the majority of subjects had experience with long-term care. A full 60 percent of Americans age 40 and over have experience receiving or providing long-term care. Furthermore, 90 percent of the people in this group have provided help to family members at some point, with 17 percent both receiving care and caring for others.

Often when people hear the term “caregiving”, they think of senior care. Interestingly enough, the most common form of elder care is family caregiving, as children frequently take care of aging parents. Family caregiving was utilized at some point by 83 percent of individuals who also have experience with assisted living.

On a related note, many respondents in the study didn’t realize the relative affordability of assisted living. Respondents in each group overestimated the price of assisted living facilities. In fact, 43 percent of individuals overestimated these costs by more than $500.

Considering that caregiving and/or elder care has affected a large portion of the U.S. population, how do these individuals regard their experiences?

Most survey respondents said that their experience with caregiving was favorable overall.

Over 70 percent of people stated that caring for a loved one was a positive, valuable life experience. Most respondents also said that the experience had strengthened their relationship with the person receiving care.

However, many caregivers know that although caring for a loved one can be incredibly rewarding, it can also take a toll on you. The AARP recommends preparing for the caregiving process before a loved one needs help. This will help save you some stress and create an environment that allows both you and your loved one to have a more positive experience. If you’re caring for a special person in your life, explore all your care options together and decide what the best course of action is for your family.

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Case Managers — What are they & why are they important?

Case managers can be a valuable part of a senior’s healthcare. Most have a degree in social work or health counseling and their main job is to help coordinate a patient’s whole healthcare regimen. Case managers are jack-of-all-trades, using creativity and flexibility to help you and your senior in all sorts of ways. Navigating the medical world can be a stressful and confusing task. In some cases, it can be impossible for someone without the proper training.

A case manager often has a long list of contacts in the health care industry, helping patients pick the right provider for their needs. They can help you pick a doctor, a specialist, a hospital or nursing home. The manager will then coordinate with the provider to arrange appointment times, insurance information and other special needs. It can be hard for you to know for sure if your senior is getting the care they need. A case manager follows the treatments ensure that everything is in order. Think of a case manager as the spokesperson between your senior and the medical community. Their other tasks include day-to-day medical assistance for the patient, such as monitoring drug reactions and treatment progression.

Case managers are an important part of the medical community. Don’t over stress yourself by trying to take on the burden of coordinating your senior’s medical regimen. Case managers are trained to do just that.

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