Pet ownership can be an extremely positive force in the life of an elderly person, especially if that person lives alone. The companionship of an animal can be therapeutic: pets have been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and loneliness and promote healing and cognitive sharpness. Caring for that pet can provide meaning and daily structure. But for some, injury or illness makes it impossible to give the animal the care it needs, and many elderly people are forced to part with their beloved animals. Recognizing that these seniors could provide companionship to animals but needed help with the maintenance, pre-veterinary students at Colorado State University have started a program to help out. Students visit elderly and disabled pet owners to provide in-home care, from walking dogs and cleaning litter boxes to trimming claws and administering medications. It gives them practice working with animals, and allows the owners to keep their pets at home.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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