October 28th, 2010 at 2:14 am
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Aging Lessons From Four-Legged Friends

by Sue Lanza

As most of you know by now, I run a long-term care facility by day. Even though it is a 24/7 job and I am on call all the time, I seem to be coming home to another, different long-term care facility at my home. And this second facility has definitely gone to the dogs.

We humans age slowly and become aware of every ache and pain as we do. Sometimes we become those people that we swear we will never become–the ones who spend all their time telling you of their latest illness. Our four-legged friends are aging too along with us but amazingly, they just keep on going, despite their aging change.

My zoo at home consists of five animals: three cats and two dogs. The cats are youngsters compared to my two golden retrievers who are now eleven and twelve years of age. Without a peep from either of them, I have seen them both slow way down in the last year and need lots of help and attention. They are on medications, need repeated blood work done and put up with frequent vet visits. Sound familiar? Yet…. Shelby, the twelve year old male, thinks he is still as spry as ever but needs a boost getting up and down. Molly, the “retired” female show dog has gone blind in both eyes yet doesn’t miss a trick in navigating our busy household.

Watching them both age gracefully provides me with endless aging lessons and here are a few of my favorites:

  • Be grateful for what you do have, instead of what you don’t have. Molly shows me this every day when she gives me love for adapting her life to her blindness and she is still as happy as she ever was.
  • Keep going, no matter what. Shelby will try every possible way to get up to follow one of us to another room, regardless of how much painful it may be on his hips. Nothing can deter him from his goal of human connection.
  • Caregiving can be joyous experience. The second I get home every day, I have my second long-term care “patients” waiting for me. Knowing that they need my help and appreciate it, melts my heart.
  • All you need is love. Sometimes a lick or a nudge from my two aging canines is the best medicine on earth.

So what lessons have your animals taught you about aging over the years?

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