Pet’s Corner

Did you know that pets, dogs as well as cats, can have a drastic influence on the lives of aging adults? Along with increased physical activity, pets can provide the interaction that is needed in the lives of seniors.

Social Isolation

According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of adults over the age of 65 are deemed socially isolated. Social isolation stems from lack of interaction or regular contact, and carries with it a slew of disadvantages to one’s health. It is linked to a fifty percent increased risk of dementia, as well as increased associations with heart disease and stroke. The risks of social isolation contend with major health risk factors such as smoking and obesity.

senior with dog

Fortunately for our seniors in Osceola County, there is a solution to social isolation: pets. The presence of a dog or cat in the life of a senior can offer many benefits, beyond combating social isolation.

Physical Benefits
  • Heart Health: Did you know that your pet can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease? Frequent interaction with a pet has been shown to lower blood pressure along with cholesterol.
  • Physical Activity: By walking or playing with your pet, you are engaging in physical activity. An increase in exercise and physical activity brings a multitude of health benefits.
  • Behavioral Patterns: With the ownership of a pet comes responsibility. A set schedule to take care of your furry friend, promotes a routine. This in turn encourages seniors to consistently eat and take better care of themselves.
  • Decreased Loneliness: Dogs are called man’s best friend for a reason; they offer companionship to their owner. Dogs and Cats as well provide conversation and affection, thus leading to decreased loneliness.
  • Stress Relief: When around a pet, the neurotransmitter serotonin is released, contributing to an overall “happy” feeling and stress relief. Along with this, the physical touch of a pet can assist with anxiety.
  • Sense of Purpose: It’s certainly easier to get out of the bed in the morning when the coming day has something in store, or a duty to perform. Pets can provide this motivation for seniors daily as they rely on their owner for food and care.

Jimmy’s Place

With all of these benefits, having a pet can greatly improve a senior’s life. However, pets are not a low cost commodity. The burden of feeding and taking care of one’s pet is often very financially taxing on a senior’s budget. Many in fact, will feed their pet first, and place themselves second, often going hungry.

senior holding cat

Meals for Pets

With the help of Meals on Wheels, the Osceola Council on Aging implemented Jimmy’s Pets earlier this year. The purpose of this new initiative is to provide pet food for homebound seniors, along with their two daily hot meals. Jimmy’s Pets ensures that seniors do not have to choose who is eating, and allows them to keep their animal that provides endless support.

You can make a difference in the lives of seniors – and in the lives of animals – by making a donation to the Osceola Council on Aging’s Pet Corner.