Ask the Care Expert about ... pets

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Sherrie Dornberger, RN,  CDONA, FACDONA Executive Director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RN, CDONA, FACDONA Executive Director, NADONA

We have residents who miss their pets so much, but because of allergies of some other residents, we cannot have cats or dogs on this wing. We feel like we need to provide something for a few residents to cuddle with, besides a stuffed animal for kids. Do you have any suggestions?

At the recent NADONA conference there was a company that has toys for the elderly. (I do not work for it, nor do I receive anything for promoting them.)

I spent time looking this product over, and I believe it will be exactly what you are looking for. It's from Hasbro and is called “Ageless Innovation” or “Joy for All Companion Pets,” which are real lifelike dogs and cats!

The company is located in Pawtucket, RI, and launched this line of products in May. They have worked with facilities over the past three years to see what the residents are looking for, and what would meet the need of the facility.

As we know, construction has to be done carefully. Residents might pick at the eyes or anything that may be sewn on to the animal, like a nose, eyes, tongue, tail or fur. It also needs to be able to be washed or spot cleaned easily, and they need to be lifelike for those residents who are looking for an animal to cuddle and love.

I can see some families purchasing these animals as birthday or holiday gifts for their loved ones. I know the company has many more ideas in the pipeline, some of which are being funded by grants. I'm personally excited to see what may be coming down the line.

While plain stuffed animals are always an option, please be careful when choosing any for your residents. Remember to get washable animals, and be sure the eyes and nose are sewn on firmly and do not have small removable parts.

Please send your resident care-related questions to Sherrie Dornberger at ltcnews@mcknights.com.