Cleveland-based group working to help elderly combat isolation through pet program

Research shows pets can help elderly battle depression during coronavirus measures

Cleveland-based group working to help elderly combat isolation through pet program

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Everyone has experienced the effects of the stay-at-home order and is feeling increased isolation, but perhaps no group more than the elderly.

Many are retired, and there are no senior centers open, no Silver Sneakers or early morning mall walking, and many are homebound and isolated.

Pets for the Elderly says now might be the perfect time to consider a pet.

“I really feel the importance right now is that feeling of connectedness, reducing that feeling of isolation,” says Susan Kurowski, Executive Director of Pets for the Elderly, founding in Cleveland in 1992. “Talk to your pets, pet them.”

A 2015 Study by Perspectives on Psychological Science found the health effects of prolonged isolation equal smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, and an earlier study found loneliness can increase the risk of death by anywhere from 26 to 45 percent.

Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, the Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, says pets can elevate mood.

Depression is common in dementia due to loneliness and isolation.

"Now more than ever, we are getting the feedback that this has made such a difference," says Kurowski.

Not all shelters are adopting now, but the Cleveland APL is adopting by appointment only as is the Summit County Humane Shelter.

You can log onto their website petsfortheelderly.org for more information.

Pets for the Elderly went national in 2002 and had participating shelters in 38 states.

They’ll make their one-hundred thousandth adoption this year.