Meals on Wheels Helps Ohio Seniors Feed Their Furry Family Members

There are over 5000 community based programs of Meals on Wheels across the country. The more than 2 million staff and volunteers work to deliver friendly visits, nutritious foods, and safety checks that allow America’s seniors to live independent and dignified lives free from hunger. 

Meals on Wheels volunteers in Ohio noticed that many of the seniors they serve were sharing their meals with their pet. Not wanting people to have to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their furry family members, Lifecare Alliance launched Senior PetCare in partnership with the Ohio State School of Veterinary Medicine.

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Seniors Need Their Pets

Maria True is a senior in Columbus. She shares her home and her life with her dog, Daisy. She was having a hard time feeding Daisy on a fixed income. She found herself having to stretch Daisy’s dog food out by only feeding her half a portion each meal. She would supplement Daisy’s diet by sharing her own meals with her. Giving up Daisy was never an option. She told NBC4,

“Seniors need their pets. Bottom line. When you live by yourself. Your pets mean the world to you.”

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Benefits of Canine Companionship

As we age, our lives can become more isolated. This is especially true if someone has lost their spouse or friends over time. Adopting a dog offers a constant source of companionship and love. Symptoms of depression can be profoundly improved and older people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure and less stress.

Having someone to take care of brings about routine and purpose, both of which are beneficial to someone whose life has changed in age. Seniors who live alone can live more in the present when they have a dog. Dogs don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. This attitude can be infectious and extremely beneficial to the well being of aging people.

In an article on the website Aging Care, Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey-based psychotherapist said, “Dogs and cats live very much in the present. They don’t worry about tomorrow, which can be a very scary concept for an older person. An animal embodies that sense of here and now, and it tends to rub off on people.”

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Ohio Vet School Partners with Meals of Wheels

Michelle Jones is an organizer with Lifecare Alliance in Ohio. She and others were noticing that there was a need in the area to help the seniors receiving Meals on Wheels services to get some support taking care of their animals. She told NBC4, “So we were seeing bread wrappers, food trays, out by their dog houses.  And we thought oh my gosh they’re sharing meals with their pets.” 

Jones helped to launch the Senior PetCare program, which piggy backs on the Meals of Wheels deliveries. In addition to bringing seniors they serve meals for themselves, the volunteers bring dog or cat food. The program also provides medical care to pets in need through their partnership with the Ohio State School of Veterinary Medicine. 

Programs like Senior PetCare rely entirely on donations from people who care. If you feel moved to help, please donate food or funds to Senior PetCare or to the program run by your local Meals on Wheels provider. Visit the Meals on Wheels America to find a program near you.

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Tags: Lifecare Alliance, Meals on Wheels, Senior PetCare

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