I am especially aware of how incredibly vital a relationship with a companion animal can be to an elderly person, especially those who are not as mobile as they used to be and thus become isolated from human interaction. Thus, when a pet dies, the senior citizen is often hit hard by the loss. The following article sums up nicely some good ways for us to help our elders get through this ordeal.

As I wrote in my book Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss, it is also vital to help these seniors make preparations for their pet’s care in the event they themselves die or otherwise become unable to care for the animal. Just knowing someone is set up to care for their beloved pet can remove a huge burden of worry, and may sometimes be just what the person needs to be able to let go when their time comes. Just as our pets will often hang on for our sake, the reverse is also true. This is a positive thing if the senior is otherwise in decent health, as owning a pet can add years to his or her life, but it merely prolongs suffering if he or she is terminal and in much pain but can’t bear to leave a pet alone.

So, read the attached article and take action. Why not give a senior you know a visit today, and bring along your pet if he or she doesn’t have one? The visit can be quite therapeutic for you both. —Sid

Dealing With Loss of Pet – 4 Steps to Helping a Senior Cope With Death of a Pet

By Deborah A. Platinum Quality Author

Deborah A

As a person ages and begins to lose their support system of close friends and relatives, having the friendship of a pet can help make their life more worthwhile. Caring for and feeling the love of a pet may make it easier for a senior to cope with many facets of their life. The love of a valued pet can help an older adult better handle personal illness, provide a sense of purpose, and help fill the loneliness, particularly if the individual no longer works. Older adults can lead more robust and joyful lives with the companionship of a treasured pet.

Because of the natural progression of loss an older adult experiences, dealing with a pet loss can be especially difficult. A pets’ death may set off feelings of emptiness, and reduce feelings of hope or purpose in life, as the person can be reminded of their own mortality.

To help a senior cope more effectively with their pets’ death and recapture a sense of hope and meaning to their life, the following four steps can be beneficial:

1) inform the senior of various community activities that would increase contact with others

2) set up a schedule to routinely call or visit the senior

3) assist the senior in finding a new pet, one that is mature and would fit in well with a more relaxed way of living

4) provide the senior with a pet loss support hotline to assist in the grieving process.

For an older adult, dealing with a pet loss can be overwhelming, as the dependency they had on their pet for understanding, love, and sense of purpose can be quite strong. Assisting the senior to regain an appreciation for life will be a great support in working through their feelings of depression. By simply being available to help guide a senior through the grief, you can show him/her many ways to recover from the loss.