Pets enhance older people’s lives at home in myriad ways

When Jackie’s husband passed away a couple of years ago, her little Poodle, Mica, became her lifeline and closest member of her family.
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I have lived in Cairns now for approximately 25 years after spending many years living abroad with my husband. Sadly, he passed away almost two years ago and so Mica is not only my best friend and anchor, but also my psychotherapist.

Turning 80 in July, and Mica turning 12 in August, we are a couple of old crones who are no longer as active as we would wish to be but muddle along together fairly well, nevertheless.

Mica is a little black miniature poodle who, unfortunately, was diagnosed with Addison’s disease around eight years ago. She requires medication twice daily which I administer myself, not always without a ruckus, but manageable at this stage. She also now suffers with arthritis, which requires more medication, and recurrent ear infections which we seem to have under control at the moment.

Mica enhances my life in myriad ways. She can be very independent at times but is always incredibly loving.  As my son lives and works overseas the majority of the time, and my daughter lives in Noosa with just a quick visit every couple of months, Mica is my lifeline and the closest member of my family.

As I suffer from macular degeneration, many of my former activities have been severely curtailed. I can no longer drive, of course, which is a huge restriction in itself, having to rely on other people much of the time. Fortunately, having a Kindle enables me to still read, which is a lifesaver.

Around 12 months ago, Mica began to suffer a series of recurring ear infections, driving both her and myself to near distraction. We would endure the ear drop drama twice daily for two weeks, get the ‘all clear’ from the vet, then a couple of weeks later the process would have to be undertaken again. This occurred around three to four times in succession.

Finally, our vet suggested that, with my vision problem, I was in all probability missing the actual canal when administering the drops. He informed me about a wonderful organisation of volunteers – Animal Care for Seniors at Home Cairns Inc. (ACSAH) - who would gladly offer assistance however and whenever required to seniors with pets.

Within an hour of our vet visit, volunteer Graham from ACSAH arrived at our home to deal with Mica’s ear drops for the following fortnight. Mica fell in love with Graham immediately and, instead of bucking and squirming as she usually does with me, she rolled over like a lamb and gazed at him adoringly as he administered the drops.  Needless to say, her ears were clear at the next vet visit and have remained so ever since with the help of some medical maintenance.

I cannot speak highly enough of the volunteers of ACSAH. Graham never hesitates to drive me to and from vet visits, even coming in for the consultation in case I forget any of the matters discussed. I honestly don’t know what I would do now without being able to rely on the assistance and care of Graham and his wife Leanne (also a volunteer) when necessary. Mica is my heart and soul and my priority above anyone else.

I recently had to have pacemaker surgery. Having no family around, I was forced to remain in hospital overnight, but I had no worries about Mica as Graham collected her and her ‘stuff’ and took her home until I was released.

I’m sure that many older people would prefer to be at home with their beloved pets and, in many cases, it is only organisations like ACSAH that enable them to do so. I’m sure there are so many older people heartbroken at no longer being able to care adequately for their pets and oblivious that such wonderful help is at hand.

Jackie , QLD

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