Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Terminally ill pet owners find themselves depending on others more and more for care as they approach the end of life. At the same time, they find themselves unable to maintain the care of the pet they love. Do you see their dilemma? How do you ask someone caring for your every need to extend themselves even more by caring for your pet? This is often the "tipping point" for patients and caregivers--ultimately, the pet ends up separated from its owner, leaving both of them grieving the loss. This is where Pet Peace of Mind comes in--before such a decision has been made. The program works through a PPOM hospice partner, providing in-home pet care with trained hospice volunteers, along with pet food delivery, trips to the vet and groomer and any needed pet medication--all free of charge to the patient and family! Now the owner and caregiver can just enjoy the pet's companionship without worrying about pet care. Our hospice partners may also help find homes for pets that will become homeless when the patient dies---sometimes those adoptive families get to meet the patient and pet in the home, letting the patient determine the timing of the pet's transition to the new family.
This month's hospice story comes from Hospice Midland in Texas. Susie Mauldin, PPOM Coordinator, told us about a patient whose adult son was his only caregiver. The two of them lived in an apartment with an 11 year old cat named Elvis. The son died suddenly, and the patient had no choice but to move into an assisted living facility. The facility allowed pets, but given the circumstances of his son's untimely death, he could not afford the $300 pet deposit needed to bring Elvis with him. Susie found out from the hospice staff that he was trying to arrange a way to pay it in installments--his world was upside down and he desperately needed the companionship of his cat. Not only was Susie able to pay for the pet deposit, she was able to make arrangements to provide cat food and litter for Elvis on a regular basis, allowing the patient the ability to pay the extra $10 a month pet rent.
This gentleman was already facing the end of his own life, then lost his son unexpectedly, followed by the place they called home together. Imagine how difficult this would have been for the patient if he had lost his 11 year old cat, too! This type of supportive care builds relationships between hospice staff and patients--giving the hospice an opportunity to provide not only medical care, but grief support in a tragic situation. This is why we believe that Pet Peace of Mind adds another level of care to hospice.