Looking after your Pets in Later Life
Looking after your Pets in Later Life
We know that pets can play an important role in your life, a cat, dog, parrot, goldfish or any other type of pet can bring hours of enjoyment, enrichment and companionship. But what might happen to our pets if something happened to us?
What if my health changes and I can no longer walk my dog?
Unexpected changes in health can leave us less fit or less able to keep up with our four-legged friends. Especially if you do not have a garden, getting out and about with your dog will bring you much needed fresh air and enjoyment.
There are plenty of services in the South East who can help if you find yourself less able to take your pooch down to the park. Dog walking services are common in most towns, and trusted persons can take your dog out for his daily constitutional on your behalf. Similarly, if you do not want to miss out on the fun, a befriender or local volunteer could accompany and support you in walking your own pet, whether its helping with a mobility aid or holding the lead of a large or strong and excitable pup.
I am worried I may not be able to afford my pet with just my pension and benefits
Pets, like children, can be expensive. The shock of receiving expensive vet bills, and the concern that our pets are kept well whilst we cover the costs can be difficult.
However, if you are in receipt of Universal Credit (without the Housing element), Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, and some other benefits, you may be able to get support for veterinary care through the PDSA.
It may also be worth investing in pet insurance, if you do not already have this. For a few pounds a month, you may be able to make a claim should anything unexpected happen to your furry loved one.
I am moving into residential care – can my pet move with me?
Moving into residential care is a huge decision in itself, but this can be made all the more difficult when you need to consider whether your pet can or should come with you. This is when research is your best friend. Although a lot of residential care homes do have a no-pet policy, others welcome small or well behaved pets to live alongside you in your new home. Some may ask that your cat is kept resident in your room, but some may be happy for him to roam free and make friends with the other residents. Even some homes with a no pet policy are open for negotiation, so please make enquiries before you move. The Rix & Kay Later Life Team have contacts in the care home industry, including a team who can prepare a detailed report of prospective care homes based on an individual’s particular needs. If you are thinking of moving into care with your pet, do let us know, and we can see where may be taking in residents like yourself at this time.
What happens to my pet if I lose mental capacity and can no longer look after them?
None of us want to consider becoming so unwell that we are unable to live our normal lives and look after our loved ones. But to make sure that our wishes are carried out, the best thing that we can do is plan.
If you lose mental capacity, it is likely that an attorney (under your Lasting or Enduring Power of Attorney) or a Court appointed deputy (if you lose capacity without making a Power of Attorney) will step in to manage your property and financial affairs. This will likely include dealing with your money, managing your property and in turn, making plans for what will happen to your pet if you are no longer capable of looking after them.
The best option would be to either speak with your friends and family, or leave a note with your papers, detailing what you wish to happen to your pet should you no longer be able to look after him or her. You may be able to arrange that a friend or family member would be able to adopt your pet, or you may feel it would be more suitable for your attorney/deputy to rehome your pet. Either way, it is important that the people who are potentially going to be making that decision on your behalf are aware of your wishes.
What will happen to my pet if I pass away?
Losing a pet is possibly one of the saddest possibilities to consider in life for a lot of people. Passing away before your pet, and where this can leave them, is an equally worrying concern.
As with a loss of capacity, it is a difficult though important conversation to have with your loved ones so they know what your wishes would be should you die before your pet. This way, you can be sure that your trusted companion can be looked after how you would wish them to be.
I am an animal-lover without pets – where can I continue this passion in later life?
A lot of people decide to no longer keep pets in later life, but this does not mean that we do not wish to have animals around us. There are lots of services who can help by sending a friendly local to visit you with their pet, so you can enjoy them too.
Some residential care homes also have in-house pets – cats, rabbits, parakeets, fish – I was once told about a care home which has its own smallholding and petting zoo! Some also have people visiting with befriender dogs, ponies and even goats!
Finally, you may wish to have a look locally to see what coach, bus or community trips are available. Many parks, farms, animal sanctuaries, bird watching marshes and zoos are open throughout the year. Although a pet at home may no longer be an option, a trip to the local petting zoo may give you a few hours with the furry friends we all know and love. If a group outing is not your cup of tea, a member of a local befriender service may be able to drive or accompany you so you do not miss out.
Contact our Later Life Legal Team in Brighton & Hove, Uckfield and Sevenoaks
To chat with Katherine Norgrove or Wendy Pawlak about how Rix & Kay can help make arrangements to look after your pets in the future, make provision for pets in your Will or to put you in touch with local animal-friendly services, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01825 744434 / email@example.com or call 01273 766991.