This free adoption program began in May of 2012 with the purpose of placing adoptable pets over six years old with pet lovers over 60 years old. Research shows that pets provide innumerable health, social and other benefits to the elderly. 90% of seniors polled say they are less lonely and much happier since adopting an animal.
Some of the health benefits noted in research include:
- Pets provide the opportunity for exercise and reminds pet owners to take care of themselves.
- Pets improve the quality of life and may even have a positive impact on longevity.
- Pets provided a much-needed natural outlet for touching and cuddling.
- Pets reduce levels of known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- Pet owners experience more symptoms of well-being and less depression resulting in visits to doctors less often.
- Being around pets has been shown to increase mental alertness and lift the spirits of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Some self-esteem benefits include:
- Increasing their interest in life by giving them something to care for.
- Trigger a reversal of many negative self-images.
- Diverting an older person’s attention away from himself and onto the playful antics of a dog or cat.
- Experiencing the feeling of unconditional love helps build self-esteem.
- Pets give people a sense of purpose, provide nonjudgmental acceptance, and allow people to become attached to something – and feel that something is attached to them.
Some of the social benefits include:
- Pets can help bridge the feeling of isolation by serving as a social catalyst between young and old.
- Pets restore order to their basic lives and provide a more secure grasp of reality.
- Pets link their owners to a community of caring, concern, sacrifice, and intense emotional relationships.
“Betty White’s Pet Love” (Betty White with Thomas J. Waston, William Morrow & Company, New York)
Many elderly people have discovered that pets satisfy their greatest needs. According to Dr. Leo Bustad, “Pets have been found to decrease loneliness in the elderly, give a person something to care for, something to watch and perhaps play with, something that provides a sense of security, something that stimulates some degree of exercise…above all, something that necessitates maintaining some kind of daily routine.”
“The Health Benefits of Pets” (NTH Technology Assessment Workshop)
The cumulative weight of studies strongly suggests that psychological benefits can be gained from animal visitation programs (at nursing home and health centers). For example, the presence of animals in institutional settings is associated with the tendency of older persons to smile and talk more, reach out toward people and objects, exhibit more alertness and attention, and experience more symptoms of well-being and depression.
With all these positive benefits for both the Senior Pet and Pet Owner, adopting a pet seems like a wonderful way to help improve the lives of our senior citizens. Please visit the Prince William Animal Shelter and look for the S4S logo.
The Prince William Humane Society wants to thank the LUCAS Cares Spay/Neuter Fund for paying the spay/neuter fees on behalf of our senior adopters. To learn more about this program, contact us.