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'Pets For The Elderly' Helps Senior Citizens Adopt And Care For Shelter Animals

While there are certainly physical health benefits to welcoming a furry friend into your home, (such as reducing a person's risk of cardiovascular disease) there are also emotional ones that are equally important in ensuing someone lives a happy, healthy life.

Studies have shown that owning a pet can combat feelings of loneliness, as well as reduce anxiety and depression, since animals are typically more than willing to provide unconditional love, affection, and companionship.

But for individuals like senior citizens, who could certainly use such a companion in their lives, owning a pet can prove to be too much of a financial and personal commitment, no matter what their extraordinary benefits may be.

Thankfully, that's where "Pets for the Elderly" comes in.

This nonprofit organization works to help senior citizens become happier and healthier by providing some assistance in covering the cost of adopting shelter animals in need of loving homes.

Since it was founded in 1992, PFE has paid for a portion of pet adoption fees for nearly 100,000 seniors (people aged 60+).

As of right now, the organization has teamed up with 50 shelters in 36 states across the country to help connect some deserving animals with a loving individual.

Through those partnerships, PFE provides part of the shelter's fees for the seniors to adopt their companion animal, including the cost of pre-adoption veterinary exams and having the pet spayed or neutered.

Recently, the organization has begun offering continued assistance, even after the pet has been welcomed home.

As TODAY reported, PFE now also helps to cover such additional costs of animal ownership, like routine veterinary care, surgeries, pet food, and trips to the groomers.

The organization will also help set up in-home visits, so shelter staff can periodically check in on those senior citizens caring for their adopted animals.

2020 certainly has not been kind to anyone, and has proven itself to be a year of anxiety, fear, and loneliness thanks to the ongoing pandemic.

“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,” Susan Kurowski, executive director of Pets for the Elderly, told TODAY. “And you don’t have to live alone to feel isolated.”

Indeed, according to Psychology Today, the outbreak has resulted in a so-called "epidemic of loneliness", with 44% of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) reportedly feeling an increasing feeling of isolation as a result of lockdowns.

Kurowski said pet ownership can exponentially improve an elderly person's well-being.

“Seniors take better care of themselves because somebody’s counting on them,” she said. “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.”

To donate to PFE, and to help make a serious difference in a senior citizen's life, as well as find a deserving shelter animal a loving home, check out the organization's website.

h/t: TODAY, Psychology Today