Should seniors have pets?

 

Someone's feeling the love here.

Each year, approximately 500,000 dogs and cats are placed in shelters when their parents die (According to the American Pet Products Association). Abandonment is the #1 reason dogs and cats wind up without homes. So that raises the question: should seniors be allowed to adopt pets that will likely outlive them?

Some shelters say no. The recidivism rate is too high, and the impact on the animals is too great.

Of course, the impact of pets on seniors is great, too. Studies show elderly people with pets are better able to remain emotionally stable during crises than those without, as well as stave off depression and loneliness. AND they’re physically healthier overall. AND pets can help lower people’s blood pressure and cholesterol, thereby reducing doctors’ visits (attention politicians!). Eden Alternative, an experimental elder care philosophy transforming traditional institutions to enlivened environments, has one senior location filled with over 100 birds, dogs, and cats and an outside pen with rabbits and chickens.  They believe that “companionship, the opportunity to give meaningful care to other living things, and the variety and spontaneity that mark an enlivened environment, can succeed where pills and therapies often fail.” And the results look good—over the past five years, they’ve experienced a mortality rate 15 percent lower than traditional nursing homes.

Where do you stand?


Alternatives

For seniors forced to give up their pets due to cost: Help-A-Pet provides financial aid to seniors who need assistance with veterinary costs. Pet Peace of Mind helps hospice patients hang on to their pets. There are pet food banks throughout the country. And the Humane Society has a fantastic list of other financial resources to assist with pet ownership.

For shelters resistant to allowing seniors to adopt: The Pets for the Elderly Foundation and Purina’s “Pets for Seniors” programs pay adoption fees to qualified shelters when they allow seniors to adopt pets.

Part-time pets: Pets on Wheels has volunteer organizations throughout the country, bringing pets to people and senior residences.

Pet trusts: A legal agreement arranging for the care of your pets in the event of your disability or death. Check out the ASPCA primer on pet trusts for more information. (Even better, win one of 5 Pet Trust certificates from Pet News and Views: Win A Pet Trust for Your Pets.)

References:
AAHA, Healthypet.com

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published a study in May of 1999
Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship

National Institute of Health Technology Assessment Workshop: Health Benefits of Pets

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2 responses to this post.

  1. So nice to have you drop in for a visit. Hope you’ll be able to join in the Super Dog Sunday Photo Blog Hop. Here’s more: http://www.allthingsdogblog.com/2011/01/why-join-in-super-dog-sunday-blog-hop.html

    Reply

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