As people trying to better the plight of the elderly, we have seen and heard the heartbreak that occurs when people are forced to part with their beloved pets because they can no longer physically take full care of them. Sometimes it is because they are entering long-term care facilities, most of which do not allow live-in animals. Or sometimes senior citizens are still able to live at home but unable to continue to walk the dog, change the cat litter, clean the rabbit cage, etc. If older people cannot find family members or friends to take their pets, the animals often end up in shelters (where their chances for adoption are slim because they, too, are usually older) or, worse, are euthanized. Either option is agonizing for the owners, who are knowingly inflicting separation or death upon faithful companions who are sometimes their only source of love. Depression and swift decline often follow. Faced with physical weakening and loss of independence, and robbed of the constant love their pets gave them, many elderly people lose interest in living. This is a terrible way to have to spend the end of one’s life.
We would like to develop a system whereby animals living with seniors facing this predicament are adopted by other people who will then bring the animals to visit their former owners on a regular basis. We call the program “Double the Love” because that’s what all involved receive. The animals get love from and give love to both their old and new owners; the elderly retain loving contact with their pets and gain interaction with the new owners; and the new owners gain the love and companionship of both the animals and the elders. It’s a win-win-win situation.
We realize that this is not for everyone, as it will often be the case that the animals are older and people may not want the potential health issues and vet bills. But we believe there are some people who will have the means and the desire to participate.
And, we believe it would be wise as a prophylactic measure. Baby Boomers will start turning 65 in 2011. If programs such as this are not already in place to help them and they, too, have no choice but to part from their pets, the burgeoning number of animals surrendered will overwhelm animal shelters.
“Double the Love” can save some hearts from breaking and some lives from ending prematurely. Let’s give it a try.
Tennessee Edenizing Foundation