of animals and aging

| 29 Mar 2017 | 12:15

    I love my cat. I take her to the vet and make sure she’s got her thyroid medication. I wish I could put my cat on my Medicare. Yes, there’s pet insurance we can buy, but like all insurance, it’s a crapshoot. From what I’ve read, pet insurance is pretty much like the insurance I pay to my Medigap provider every month. I may need it, I hope I won’t. For the most part, you pay the pet insurance company pretty much what you’d pay the vet, unless your animal has a big crisis. And there are deductibles, co-pays and premiums. At this point, my Simone has a pre-existing condition and wouldn’t be covered under most plans, at least for her thyroid condition.

    So far she’s responding well to the medication, and our vet is very understanding. She says, “Ideally you should have her tested every few months, but if she stays well, bring her in next year.” Thank you, doctor. But she may not stay well and she may develop a different condition. Even her regular exam and blood test costs between $300 and $400 a pop. We saw a dog in the vet’s office who’d been attacked in the park and had a bloody, torn ear. John heard the receptionist say, “That’ll be $550 for today.” The owner was an older woman. Who knows, she may be wealthy. But then again, she may not be. So like everything else, it’s a personal decision.

    Our last cat suddenly became very sick and we ended up paying a few thousand dollars, and she died of unknown causes anyway. She wasn’t very old, which was sad. I think if I had an elderly animal and it needed really expensive treatment, I would consider the lifespan of the animal and how much we could realistically pay. This is life. I feel the same way about myself. One of the members of my women’s group says she “wants everything. Any and all treatment until the end.” Many of us don’t feel the same way. I certainly don’t, and I’d feel the same way about my cat. We give her a good and loving life, and will do what we can for her, within bounds. We seniors on limited incomes have to make decisions every day about what we can and cannot pay for, and also what our philosophy about life is. Animals have a lifespan; I’d take that into consideration with Simone. No hate mail please. We all do what we can.

    Actually, I often wonder about those oldsters with their walkers and their little old dogs I see every day on the Upper West Side. It’s wonderful for those who end up old and alone to have a companion, but what will happen if the person dies first? I wonder if these people have someone looking after them and their animals, and what will happen to the pet if the owner is no longer around. Unless there is a caring family member, it would probably be good-bye Fido. I have mixed feelings about all of this. I remember a day years ago when I was walking to a hair appointment and an old man was standing on a corner with his elderly cocker spaniel, asking for someone to take the dog and give it a home. To this day, I wish I had grabbed a cab and taken them to the ASPCA. But I didn’t, and I have never really forgiven myself. I’ll never know what happened to that sad duo, but it stays with me. So sad for the elderly, both human and animal, who end up alone.

    SelfHelp Community Services has a Virtual Senior Center that is a lifeline for homebound seniors. Using either their specially designed, senior-friendly touch screen computer, or your own computer, the member is able to connect with other seniors by taking on-line interactive classes such as health, computer skills and exercise and also play rummy. Crazy 8s and Hearts are coming soon. The website has a list of classes, and it’s very diverse and interesting. SelfHelp will teach the participant to use Skype to be in touch with others. If interested in SelfHelp’s Virtual Senior Center, call 866-735-234 or email info@selfhelp.net.

    One last note. Last time I wrote about how hospitals ought to have single rooms only, and I asked my friends what their ideas were for making the stay more comfortable. By far, the noise problem was on top. One friend had a terrific suggestion: make headphones mandatory for those patients who insist on having their televisions blaring constantly. I second that. It’s only a beginning, but food for more thought on making hospital stays bearable.