June 7, 2021

Meals on Wheels, PetSmart Charities Release New Research on Homebound Seniors and Pets

Meals on Wheels America, the national leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the US dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger, and PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, announced today the results of a new research initiative aimed at identifying the needs of homebound seniors and their pets and developing more successful pet programming across the Meals on Wheels network. This effort is part of PetSmart Charities’ three-year, more than $3 million commitment to Meals on Wheels America, which has helped enable nearly 17,000 older adults to keep and care for their loving companions.

The research found that 4 out of 5 (81 percent ) Meals on Wheels clients receiving pet assistance feel that Meals on Wheels has made it possible to keep their beloved companions. The research also uncovered:

Nearly half (48 percent ) of clients receiving pet support do not have anyone else to help them with their pet needs other than Meals on Wheels.

Approximately 1 in 3 clients (29 percent ) reported foregoing personal care in the past two years in order to provide for their pet.

For those pet-owning clients surveyed who live alone and are lonely, 81 percent are at risk for social isolation and report very high pet bonding.

97 percent of clients agree that having a pet makes you feel less lonely and makes your family feel more complete.

One in four seniors lives alone and, for many of them, their pet is their closest companion and one of their only sources of consistent comfort. However, caring for a pet can often be a financial and physical challenge for older adults to manage on their own. With the generous support of PetSmart Charities, Meals on Wheels America supports local programs that help feed, groom and even provide preventive veterinary care to the pets of seniors in need.

“Pets play a very important role in the life of a homebound older adult, providing critical social connection and enhancing their physical and mental health and well-being,” said Aimee Gilbreath, President of PetSmart Charities. “We are proud to continue our work with Meals on Wheels America to better understand the needs of seniors with pets and the barriers they face in keeping them together.”

“Enabling vulnerable seniors to care for and keep their loving companions is just one of the many ways Meals on Wheels delivers so much more than a meal to combat social isolation and loneliness,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “We’re incredibly grateful for PetSmart Charities’ ongoing support, as it helps ensure seniors and their animal companions can continue to live happy, healthy and nourished lives together.”

To learn more about this research and how you can get involved, click here. For more information on PetSmart Charities, click here.

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