By D. Kevin McNeir: For More Info, Go Here…
Benefits: More Frequent Exercise, Decreased Loneliness, Greater Well-Being.
Editor’s Note: The following article is particularly relevant to circumstances personally experienced during the past year. As the primary caregiver for my mother who will mark her 91st birthday in March and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I purchased a boxer puppy in December 2017 that has since been trained and certified as a support animal. Unfortunately, the Maryland-based retirement complex in which we had been living for three years had revised its pet policies in the same month that the dog was purchased that put my family in conflict with the directives of the board of directors. After eight months of constant harassment, fines and threats, and despite my seeking assistance through the State of Maryland, I eventually had no other recourse but to move to another location – one which offered fewer amenities and far fewer safety measures.
Much has been reported about a paradigm shift within American society which looms on the horizon and cannot be ignored: In less than 20 years, according to U.S. Census data, older adults will outnumber children for the first time in our history. On reaching that milestone in 2035, experts predict, the 78 million older Americans 65 or more will slightly outnumber the 76.7 million children under 18.
Most of these seniors will be women, who have longer life expectancies than men and who will more than likely live at home with the assistance of family caregivers. The majority of the seniors will be baby boomers being cared for by their adult children, Gen Xers in their 50s and 60s and the older Millennials in their 40s and early 50s. Others will live alone, following a trend first observed in 2000, when less than five percent of Americans 65 and older lived in nursing homes, utilizing various services provided by home caregivers or other assisted living options.
Because of this shift, experts in aging, called gerontologists, have become increasingly concerned about the rising number of older Americans who will be isolated. Their research has focused on a range of potential remedies, such as volunteer friendly-visitor programs and even high-tech solutions, like videos and robots. One traditional approach to loneliness, though, is also gaining interest – pet ownership.