Hospice offers a better quality of life for those who are nearing the end. Holding family dear is important to many in their twilight years, as is the companionship of pets, but leaving them behind as they enter a hospice facility can be heartbreaking.
The disruption can be just as traumatic for the human as it can for their animal companion.
Rather than force patients to worry about the future of their animals, one organization is allowing them to keep their pets nearby until the end, and finding them loving homes afterwards. Pet Peace of Mind works as “an extension of hospice’s overall mission to provide care and support for patients and their families during the end of life journey,” said president Dianne McGill. “Since many patients consider their pets essential family members, the program is there to acknowledge and validate this important element of the patient’s support network.”
According to Healthy Food House, Pet Peace of Mind helps hospice facilities train volunteers to help their patients with pet care, provides initial funding for equipment and training, and offers guidance to each pet program that takes shape in its network.
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As a nonprofit, Pet Peace of Mind is funded through donations and staffed by volunteers who see to the every need of the animals while they are in their care. They are important animals, and in some cases the only friendship a hospice patient may have.
“For many terminally ill patients, pets provide a powerful antidote – sometimes the most powerful antidote – to isolation, loneliness, and depression,” McGill said. “I know of countless patients who have said that their pet is their lifeline. Pets are great medicine for coping with the anxiety the comes from dealing with a serious medical condition.
“For many patients, keeping their pets near them during the end of life journey and finding homes for their beloved pets after they pass is one of the most important pieces of unfinished business.”
Given the amount of time we spend together, it’s clear that humans and their pets can form very strong bonds. We humans typically live much longer than cats or dogs, and may know more than a few throughout our lives, but that doesn’t make it easy when they near the end of theirs.
Or, as we near the end of ours.
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