Is it possible that pets could extend a life? Several studies say yes. Those who care for animals—especially the elderly—enjoy a better chance of living a fuller life with fewer doctor visits. They take fewer medications, suffer less from heart problems, and cope better with stressful life events, according to a Pawsitive Interaction study. Pawsitive Interaction, a non-profit educational organization, surveyed 100 senior pet owners for the study. But that's only if they aren't sacrificing their own needs for their pets.
Charlene Overcash, founder of Pet Home Health Agency, LLC—a group dedicated to providing at-home care to animals—suspected that some NYC homebound seniors on Meals on Wheels programs were sharing their food with their pets. Overcash speculated that neither pet nor person was receiving enough nutrition.
To help sufficiently feed seniors and their pets, Overcash teamed up with several senior centers in NYC to organize a pet food drive to accompany the Meals on Wheels program. By advocating the addition of pet food to to the program, Overcash hopes to increase awareness of the significance of pets in not only the lives of seniors, but everyone.
To support—or start your own—similar programs, visit We All Love Our Pets (WALOP)'s or Seasons of Suppers' Web sites. WALOP is a national initiative, created by the Meals on Wheels Association of America, which seeks to unite Meals on Wheels programs across the country in their efforts to keep seniors and their pets well nourished. Seasons of Suppers are a partnership between Banfield Pet Hospitals, Banfield Charitable Trust, and Meals on Wheels Association of America that raises money to start or augment pet feeding programs across the country.