I have lost track of the number of “Dog mom” and “I love my cat” bumper stickers I see while driving every day. In a changing and sometimes alarming world, a pet’s love remains a comforting constant. Who is happy to see you walk through your front door?
Of course, having a pet involves ongoing responsibilities, including medical care, which can be expensive. AgeSpan is fortunate that, through the generosity of Meals on Wheels and PetSmart, we can offer the people we serve—for example, those receiving Meals on Wheels, home care, and residents of community housing—help with these bills via our new Veterinary Care Schedule.
Pets can do a lot to combat the loneliness and isolation that often affects older adults. More than one-third of adults aged 65 and over report they feel lonely. Loneliness is defined as the feeling of being alone, no matter how much social contact you have. Nearly one-fourth of these older adults are considered to be socially isolated because they live alone, have lost family members or friends, and have a chronic illness or limited hearing. These conditions can result in serious health consequences, including higher risks of dementia, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
But good news comes with four paws, or claws, or more. Interacting with animals and pets has been shown to reduce loneliness, boost people’s mood and feelings of social support, decrease stress, and even lower blood pressure.
So, we are pleased to now offer this innovative program for our beloved animal companions. People who want to learn more can contact their Care Manager at 800-892-0890.
Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.agespan.org for more information. You can also call us at 800-892-0890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of AgeSpan, formerly Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore.