A fuzzy snuggle, a friendly purr and a slightly slobbery kiss are all perks of having a pet.
All of these small pleasures can add up to some big benefits, especially for YMOW clients and other seniors living alone.
Pets relieve isolation
The physical, mental and emotional effects of loneliness and isolation include a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death, according to the National Council on Aging. Unfortunately, many YMOW clients live alone and are at risk of these and other effects of loneliness. For many, the YMOW Client Care Associate or volunteer who delivers their meals is the only person they see all day.
While many studies have shown the harm that comes from isolation, others reveal the relief that a furry companion can provide from these and other ailments. A study by the University of Michigan, for example, showed that a pet can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and help slow cognitive decline.
Just as our Client Care Associates and volunteers see firsthand the negative effects of isolation, they also see the joy that pets bring and the positive impact they have on the lives of seniors.
Pets create a routine
As moms, dads and working adults, most people thrive on a daily routine that gets us up in the morning and brings us purpose throughout the day. But seniors living alone without a job to go to or a family to care for can struggle to find a reason to get up and start the day. A pet changes all that.
A dog who needs to go out or a cat begging for breakfast gives a senior a real reason to put their feet on the floor and their day into motion.
A step on the road to recovery
Having a beloved pet waiting at home gives a senior one extra reason to get back home after an illness, surgery or injury.
Through our partners at Humane Society of Huron Valley and their Safe Harbor program, clients’ pets are cared for while their owner focuses on recovery from a surgery, injury or illness. Knowing that their animal is properly cared for gives the senior peace of mind, and knowing that their pet will be waiting when they’re well again gives them motivation to heal.
PALS helps pets and their owners
YMOW understands the importance of pets in our lives, and in the lives of our clients. We also understand the financial and physical demands that come with pet ownership. Through our Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors program (PALS), we strive to relieve those burdens, allowing our clients to reap the benefits of pet ownership without worrying about how to pay for food, how to get a pet to a veterinary appointment, or even how to struggle with a heavy bag of dog food or cat litter.
YMOW’s Pets Assisting the Live of Seniors (PALS) program helps seniors reap the many benefits of pet ownership without the physical and financial burdens that can come with having a furry companion. Through partnerships with the Humane Society of Huron Valley, the Ypsilanti Animal Clinic, Animal Urgent Center, Blue Pearl Ann Arbor and mobile groomer Ruff Revolution, pets of YMOW clients are fed and cared for.
To donate to PALS, please visit ymow.org/donate. Or plan to attend our program fundraiser, The Wonderland Breakfast & Creature Carnival, on Nov. 11, where every dollar raised with be doubled through a matching sponsorship.