Going beyond their mandate to provide nutritious food, Central Texas Meals on Wheels maintains a Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors (PALS) program that provides an additional supply of pet food and necessary veterinary care assistance to homebound seniors every month.
As reported by KXAN, the Meals on Wheels Central Texas chapter currently distributes pet food to around 570 pets in the region. In addition, approximately 560 pets have been able to undergo their annual exams, vaccinations, and medical procedures like surgery thanks to funding from PALS.
The Difference a Pet Makes to the Life of a Senior
For many of these seniors, their pets serve as their lifeline. According to research done by Meals on Wheels and their partner PetSmart Charities in June of 2021, up to one in four senior citizens lives alone. A large number of American senior citizens, especially those who are homebound, depend on their pets for some much-needed comfort, companionship, and socialization.
As shared by PALS program manager Joel Hess in an interview for KXAN, having a pet can ease the burdens of social isolation on seniors, which include the aggravation of physical health conditions like Type II diabetes and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The company of a furry friend, like a cat or dog, can motivate a senior citizen to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle and feel less lonely or stressed.
There are definite challenges to caring for a pet in one’s twilight years, like not being able to go out as often to buy pet supplies or not having enough money to pay for veterinary care. In fact, according to the Meals on Wheels and PetSmart Charities report, up to 29% of the senior citizens who were surveyed said that they forewent their own medical care so that they could still provide for their pet.
But when seniors have enough resources to keep their pets in their homes, such dire measures are no longer necessary. The extra assistance granted by programs like PALS, says Hess, ensures a “win-win situation” for everyone.
Resources for Seniors Taking Care of Pets During the Pandemic
It may have already been a challenge for a senior citizen to care for a pet before the global COVID-19 pandemic. But the unpredictable situation may make it even harder for elderly pet parents to secure the pet food, pet supplies, and other pet merchandise they need.
Local programs like those of Meals on Wheels can help seniors receive additional assistance for their pets. For additional pet products like wholesale dog bandanas, custom dog harnesses, and dog stainless steel bowls, seniors can find a host of affordable options online that can be delivered straight to their homes.
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