Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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SusanJ
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Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

Post by SusanJ »

I know this forum is not for caregiving per se, but I'm wondering if anyone has faced moving a loved one to memory care, who has a beloved pet.

My brother-in-law has recently passed, and my sister-in-law can not live on her own. She has a dog she absolutely will not give up - a 70+ pound pit bull - so we're looking for ideas to deal with this.

Someone at the memory care facility said to re-home the dog first and then give her a couple of weeks to adjust before moving her to the facility.

If anyone has had experience with the order of doing this, I'd love to hear how you handled it. We are planning to start the talk about moving next week.
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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SusanJ wrote:I know this forum is not for caregiving per se, but I'm wondering if anyone has faced moving a loved one to memory care, who has a beloved pet.
That maybe not what this forum is about, but I'm so glad you brought this up! I foresee a similar situation with my sister and her cats and want to follow along with any advice given in this thread.
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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TheresaB wrote:
SusanJ wrote:I know this forum is not for caregiving per se, but I'm wondering if anyone has faced moving a loved one to memory care, who has a beloved pet.
That maybe not what this forum is about, but I'm so glad you brought this up! I foresee a similar situation with my sister and her cats and want to follow along with any advice given in this thread.
What Happens When a Senior Can No Longer Care for Their Pet?, from AgingCare may be a helpful resource, with suggestions from vets and others. here's an excerpt:
Get the owner’s input. Be sure to let the pet owner have a say in the decision...explains Dr. Jones; “Animal owners are visibly relieved when we tell them we’ve found their pets a new home. It’s not uncommon for them to cry.”
Allow for a smooth transition. Ideally, the current owner will be able to help the pet transition to its new home. The goal is to help the animal and new owner build trust and become familiar with one another incrementally. Try having the new owner come for extended visits with the pet, take the animal for walks and care for it in the new home for short periods before full-time ownership begins. Small steps are easier on everyone involved compared to an abrupt change.
Susan, you may want to look at assisted living or senior homes that have established relationships with pet therapy groups that bring dogs on a weekly basis. Given that her dog is a put bull (and probably a sweetheart) having the vet who is familiar with the dog provide info on any medical/safety needs and perhaps suggest a pit bull rescue group in the area may be helpful. My MIL lost a beloved cat shortly before she needed to move into memory care. She had a very life-life cat stuffed animal as a companion that made the transition easier. Hope this transition can be gentle for your SIL.
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SusanJ
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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NF52 wrote:Try having the new owner come for extended visits with the pet, take the animal for walks and care for it in the new home for short periods before full-time ownership begins. Small steps are easier on everyone involved compared to an abrupt change.
Thanks, NF52, I read that page, too.

My brother-in-law's grandnephew and his wife are willing to take Charlie, so that part is fairly straightforward. Known quantities all around.

It's just dealing with "I'm staying in Florida with Charlie" that we hear most every day. She suspects we are planning to move her to Colorado. When she asks if she can stay in the house, we have been responding that she may not be able to stay in the house, but we will find her something in town. She then says she won't go anywhere that won't take Charlie.

We will be the devil incarnate however we handle it, so we are trying to figure out the least stressful approach for her.
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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SusanJ wrote:
NF52 wrote:Try having the new owner come for extended visits with the pet, take the animal for walks and care for it in the new home for short periods before full-time ownership begins. Small steps are easier on everyone involved compared to an abrupt change.
Thanks, NF52, I read that page, too.

My brother-in-law's grandnephew and his wife are willing to take Charlie, so that part is fairly straightforward. Known quantities all around.

It's just dealing with "I'm staying in Florida with Charlie" that we hear most every day. She suspects we are planning to move her to Colorado. When she asks if she can stay in the house, we have been responding that she may not be able to stay in the house, but we will find her something in town. She then says she won't go anywhere that won't take Charlie.

We will be the devil incarnate however we handle it, so we are trying to figure out the least stressful approach for her.
Oh gee, you have a lot on your plate with your BIL's death and now managing his wife's care. I don't personally mind these kinds of questions coming up here, and Our Stories seems like the perfect place for it. How fortunate that family will have Charlie!

I can also recommend the online forum for caregivers at the Alzheimer's Association's AlzConnected.org website. I found it quite helpful. There were so many people going through similar things and sharing 'tricks of the trade'.

The AA also has a caregiver hotline (24/7 800.272.3900) that I used during three different especially difficult situations. I found it so helpful to talk some things through with someone. If the issue is 'beyond the pay grade' of level one, they will put someone on with an advanced degree.

All that's just FYI. I'm not sure whether those resources will help in your current situation. The forum might be worth posting on though to hear how others may have handled this and how it went.

I'm not at all knowlegable with the scenario you face, but 'Someone at the memory care facility said to re-home the dog first and then give her a couple of weeks to adjust before moving her to the facility' doesn't seem quite right to me. Without understanding why that would be a good approach, I would be more inclined to tell her that you have a place that will allow her and Charlie a 'trial period' during which the family will make regular dog visits (if allowed? maybe outside? or she can be taken out to see Charlie?). You could tell her that you've already paid for the trial period ifshe tries to get out of it. Even if you know she will stay there permanently, this kind of 'therapeutic lie' (to be blunt) that a final decision hasn't been made won't make it easy, but it may take at least a bit of the edge off the situation. She will be thinking it's temporary and will also still see her dog while transitioning and getting other kinds of stimulation. If she has to sit at home alone grieving for a while before moving, missing her dog and hating the idea of moving … somehow that just doesn't seem right. I wonder if the facility is actually hoping to not have to deal with the issue once she gets there, as if her sitting at home alone for a while first will make her want to come? Of course depending on her cognitive status this may not work if she knows exactly what you're doing.

One of the hardest things for an honest person about Alzheimer's caregiving are all the 'therapeutic lies' that actually protect the patient and help make their lives go better. I became very smooth at it, which surprised me, but it was always from my heart and for a good reason, so it worked.
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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circular wrote:If she has to sit at home alone grieving for a while before moving, missing her dog and hating the idea of moving … somehow that just doesn't seem right.
That's kind of how I felt about it. Seemed like a bumpy transition given where his sister is cognitively at the moment. If she were a little farther down the forgetful road, then maybe, but right now, she will constantly ask where he is and be anxious about it.

I'll try the caregiving forum and keep the hotline handy. Sounds like I might find some good advice there and I'll come back and post if I find some good strategies. Thanks for sharing.

Yep we're getting really good at the "therapeutic lies", especially when one of us has to go do things like talk to the lawyer, look at a memory care place, etc. Can't tell you how many times I have gone out to get a flu shot...

Monday my hubs will start the process by talking about her memory...seems no one has wanted to do that up to this point. We have our short list of issues that my hubs can talk about. I liked an article that said to be "proof-full" instead of truthful. Then off to her doctor to "rule out" any problems. Florida has a form that all assisted living places require, and we will ask her doctor to fill that out as she evaluates his sister.
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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SusanJ wrote: My brother-in-law's grandnephew and his wife are willing to take Charlie, so that part is fairly straightforward. Known quantities all around.
Do they live in the area, where they could bring Charlie for visits (if allowed)?
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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Tincup wrote:Do they live in the area, where they could bring Charlie for visits (if allowed)?
They don't live very close.

I'm not sure I would want Charlie visiting anyway, because he is a little bit of a wild child. He's a good hearted dog, but needed a lot of training that he didn't get from two elderly, frail people.
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

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SusanJ wrote: My brother-in-law's grandnephew and his wife are willing to take Charlie, so that part is fairly straightforward. Known quantities all around.

It's just dealing with "I'm staying in Florida with Charlie" that we hear most every day. She suspects we are planning to move her to Colorado. When she asks if she can stay in the house, we have been responding that she may not be able to stay in the house, but we will find her something in town. She then says she won't go anywhere that won't take Charlie.
Our geriatric care manager advised us to wait out my father, who insisted on staying in his apartment and driving his SUV and dismissing all offers of assistance. He managed for 18 months of early-stage Alzheimer's with the tactic of "I'm fine, boys", and I'll always wonder how many times he came close to disasters. The only good news of that period is that we managed to keep open the lines of communication.

When Dad finally ended up in the hospital, he was ready to go right back home. We used the authority-figure tactic: the surgeon gave him a written prescription for the skilled nursing facility we'd chosen, which was also a full-care facility. He adapted to the environment in three days ("Guys, they have free food & laundry! I don't have any chores!!") but he still fretted about taking care of things at home. When we told him that he'd left everything in good shape and that we were following his instructions, you could see his entire face relax.

It might make your SIL happier to know that her dog is being taken care of and that "they'll get back together when she's healthier." Maybe photos, videos, or even Facetime would help ease the transition until she stops asking about it.

Bob DeMarco (of the defunct Alzheimer's Reading Room) used to tell his mother that they'd go visit someone (or do some activity) in a couple of hours (or after her shower, or after dinner). She'd inevitably accept that response and then forget about the plan. They might end up repeating the conversation loop every 20 minutes, but she was happy with the answers.
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Re: Moving a loved one and re-homing a pet

Post by SusanJ »

Nords wrote:It might make your SIL happier to know that her dog is being taken care of and that "they'll get back together when she's healthier." Maybe photos, videos, or even Facetime would help ease the transition until she stops asking about it.
Thanks, Nords. Certainly something we need to reassure her, that her grandnephew and wife will take good care of Charlie. I'm guessing they would be happy to send a picture now and then until she starts running with the bingo ladies. She loves bingo!
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