At a recent networking meeting I was warmly greeted by our wonderful hostesses and Gus, a very large, friendly, German Shepard. Gus is a retired Seeing Eye dog.
Gus and our human hostesses warmly greeted everyone and were very gracious and attentive to all our needs. Gus circulated the living room and welcomed everyone – a perfect gentleman. He was not intrusive, he simply weaved through the visitors and accepted his pats and ear rubs when given. Once our meeting began Gus quietly slipped away. I am sure he had to check in on other areas of the house! However, Gus frequently returned to the living room, stood quietly, looked around to make sure everything was okay, and left.
We were told about Gus’ background and that Gus lives with one of our hostesses, when not “on duty” at Pond Home. In addition to Gus, there are 2 cats also in residence. The cats pretty much stay on the upper floors and Gus stays on the first floor. As a big an animal lover, I am pleased to see and hear how much these animals mean to the residents of this community.
It wasn’t too long ago that many senior communities and local elderly housing complexes would not allow animals. Some of the issues were pets can cause falls, older people cannot take care of themselves let alone a pet, and they are too messy to have around. So when our older family members who own and love their pets are deciding to downsize and move it makes deciding more difficult if pets are excluded.
However there is growing research that indicates that either having their own pet or a pet available to them in their residential community provides many therapeutic physical and emotional benefits for our valued older population. While researching on the web I found on The Pets for the Elderly Foundation website that ” . . .the benefits to elderly persons are ten-fold (versus non-pet owners). In the following ways:
1. Pets lower blood pressure and pulse rate
2. 21% fewer visits to the doctor
3. Less depression
4. Easier to make friends (enhanced social opportunities)
5. Seniors become more active
6. Pets offer affection and unconditional love
7. Pets ease loss of a loved one
8. Pets fight loneliness
9. Seniors take better care of themselves
10. Sense of security
Thankfully, I am seeing more and more care facilities and elderly housing allowing pets or they have a pet in residence for everyone to enjoy. The benefits to the seniors are well worth the effort to them keep or have a pet.