May is National Pet Month and with May 5th through May 11th National Pet Week, the American Veterinary Medical Association is busy promoting events that celebrate how pets enrich our lives. Pet rescue groups, shelters, and vet clinics all over the country will be sponsoring pet-related events this month, including special adoption opportunities. With so many more assisted living communities now welcoming seniors’ pets to join them, this is the perfect time for a senior to consider adopting a dog or cat.
Studies show pet ownership improves both physical and emotional health — lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and positively impacts depression. This is exemplified by the benefits seniors gain from pet therapy programs bringing the pets to residents. Unfortunately, even if their living situation accommodates a pet, seniors are reluctant to adopt for a variety of concerns. Keeping up with an active puppy or kitten, having to train a pet, and fear leaving their companion due to failing health can prove too worrisome.
Seniors for Seniors
Keeping in mind seniors’ hesitancy to adopt a younger pet, the organization PAWS Companions has a program, Seniors for Seniors, that pairs hard-to-place senior dogs and cats with senior owners. Local PAWS chapters can be found in many cities. The cats and dogs up for adoption are usually seven years or older and the senior age requirement is 60+. Applicants work with a “matchmaker” to find just the right fit for the adoptee. Seniors go through an assessment of their lifestyle, home environment, and appropriateness for adopting to determine the best pairing.
Senior pets are ideal because they do well in the quieter environment of a senior’s home or assisted living apartment where they usually don’t have to adapt to other pets. Older animals are much calmer and many already had training as puppies. Seniors are reassured in their adoption contract that should they need to be hospitalized for long or a stay in a skilled-nursing facility, they may return their pet to the PAWS organization.