Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TLC For Those In LTC

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, February 5, 2014  by Sara Jewell Mattinson.

At 13 years old and a lifelong resident of East Cumberland Lodge, Smokey is very clear about what he likes -- and he likes that chair in Janette Farnell’s room. 
“I think there’s nothing like him,” Janette says, gazing fondly at the solid grey cat with the white cheeks. “He wakes me up for breakfast. He has his own blanket. He has his own chair and if he’s not there, I sit in the chair and he lies on the bed.”

Smokey has lived his entire life at East Cumberland Lodge in Pugwash, NS.
Smokey is one in a long, well-loved line of cats who have called ECL home.
“We’ve had cats for many, many years,” explains Janice Varner, ECL’s Director of Recreation. “Way before people had pets in facilities. People were like ‘You have a cat?’ What about allergies? What about people who don’t like cats?’ You always had that from other homes. It’s never been a problem for us.”
That cats have been co-habiting with residents at ECL for thirty years is a testament to the importance of their position on the care team. 
“I can’t even describe the interaction,” Varner says. “When you think these residents don’t get out to see animals; a lot of them, they’re just here. Many residents have treats because they want one of the cats to come to them. It’s very nurturing.”

ECL's newest furry addition is Ember, sharing treats with resident Louise.
Willow Lodge in Tatamagouche takes pet companionship one step further. The lodge’s sixty-plus residents enjoy the company not only of a dog and several cats but also two goats and a pony. 
If you’ve been a farmer all your life then cleaning up after Willow Lodge’s few barn animals would make you feel right at home.
“Our animals provide loving companionship for our Elders,” says Betty Matheson, the Director of Care, “as well as provide a chance for our Elders to  feel helpful in providing love, care and treats, too.”
Seniors with pets tend to have fewer health problems. Studies have shown that patting an animal can lower blood pressure and pulse rate, while the presence of a pet helps reduce the likelihood of depression and eases loneliness and even grief.
ECL recently welcomed a new cat, two-year-old Ember, to the family after Smokey’s sister Cinder passed away.
According to Varner, it takes a certain temperament to make a suitable pet for a long-term care facility. 
“You want one that is fairly friendly, that doesn’t mind being around people and that doesn’t mind other cats,” Varner says. “You definitely look for a gentle cat.”
When it comes to pets and seniors, gentleness trumps size. When the new “director of treats” at White Birches Retirement Residence in Amherst stops growing in a year or so, he will weigh as much as 150 pounds (70 kg) with his shoulders at a height of 30 inches (75 cm).
That will make Archie easy to pet. 
Archie, the pup of Doug and Sandy Gallagher, is a Newfoundland, a breed known for its sweet and gentle nature.

Archie enjoys his visits to White Birches Retirement Home in Amherst, NS.
Manager Danielle  Allen says she’s seen a huge difference since the three-month old pup has started hanging out at the residence next door to the Gallagher’s house.
“A lot of residents had animals at home and they miss them,” she says. “So it’s exciting for them to have Archie visit. It’s something to look forward to. Everybody likes to watch him play around.”
If nothing else, Archie will keep the 29 residents of White Birches on their toes. Minutes after he posed for photographs, he trotted through the TV room with a styrofoam cup filched from a garbage can in his mouth. 
Studies show laughter, too, is good for one’s health.

No comments:

Post a Comment