The coronavirus pandemic has been lonely for many people as everyone is staying home, avoiding physical contact, and staying six feet away from people. Seniors, one of the vulnerable populations, have been separated from their loved ones for long periods of time and many are especially lonely. One way senior citizens can cope with lack of companionship is by fostering or adopting a pet.
An organization called Pets for the Elderly gives elderly people the opportunity to have a foster pet. Since 1992, they have connected over 100,000 people across the country.
They just announced they are expanding their grant program to provide financial assistance to the owners in covering the costs of care for the animals — including grooming, vet visits, food and visits at home where the shelters check in on the pups.
Susan Kurowski, executive director of Pets for the Elderly, explained her understanding of the need for a program like this during a pandemic. In speaking with TODAY, she said, “Now, especially with COVID, bridging this whole isolation gap with companionship is going to show — when we look back — as being key to so many people’s mental wellness. And you don’t have to live alone to feel isolated.”
Kurowski continued to say, “Seniors take better care of themselves because somebody’s counting on them. They maintain a routine. They take their vitamins and their prescriptions on time because there’s someone relying on them, and that is so important.”
One of the people in the program who was connected with a foster pup, Pat Smith, also spoke with Today and talked about the benefits of having her dog, Brady, around. “He’s a wonderful companion,” she said, “He’s very active, but he really is my best buddy. No matter where I go in my house, he follows me. He’s a real comfort to me. I just think everybody should have a pet.”