Unfortunately, loneliness and social isolation are quite common among senior citizens for obvious reasons. When you lose your spouse, friends, and family members, there is a void that is impossible to fill.
When you have been retired for many years, you no longer have daily interactions with coworkers, and work-related social events are no longer part of your life. This is a recipe for social isolation, and it is a very serious elder law challenge.
Physical Health Ramifications
We have all experienced loneliness to some degree, so we have some frame of reference on an emotional level, but social isolation can also cause physical health problems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), social isolation triggers a 50 percent increased dementia risk. The risk of premature death from all causes is significantly increased, and the degree of increased risk is comparable to smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Heart failure patients that experience social isolation are impacted in a big way. Their risk of death is increased by a factor of four, and they have a 68 percent increased risk of hospitalization.
Clearly, loneliness and social isolation can take a heavy toll on senior citizens, but there is a partial solution.
No logical person would contend that a pet can adequately replace the most important people in your life. At the same time, an absolute void can be filled quite nicely if you adopt a dog during your senior years.
When you look into the innocent eyes of a canine companion, it is hard to feel depressed. You will always have a friend by your side when you are a dog owner, and they are very entertaining. Your pet will also enhance your home security, even if it is a small dog.
There is also the matter of exercise and social interaction. Dogs like to go out for walks, and this will give you a reason to get some exercise in your own right. While you are at the park or the dog park, you may make acquaintances that become friends.
It can be hard to get out of bed in the morning when you do not have any real purpose. Pet ownership can be very beneficial on this level as well, because your dog will be relying on you for everything, and you feel a satisfying sense of responsibility.
There are seniors that understand the benefits of dog ownership, but they are concerned about predeceasing a pet. This is fully understandable, but you can set those concerns aside if you establish a pet trust for the benefit of your fine furry friend.
When you establish the trust, you identify someone that is willing to act as the caretaker if you die before the pet passes. If possible, you should try to find another person that would be willing to step up if the first choice becomes unavailable.
You also name a trustee that will act as the trust administrator. After your passing, the trustee will utilize assets in the trust to make your wishes come to fruition with regard to the way you want the pet to be cared for going forward.
Assets that remain in the trust after the death of the pet would be inherited by a successor beneficiary that you name when you draw up the trust. As you can see, a pet trust can provide the ideal solution if you are interested in pet ownership during your senior years.
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We are ready to spring into action if you would like to work with a Cincinnati estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, we can be reached by phone at 513-721-1513.