If you’re looking for something to give your life more purpose in retirement, here’s a rewarding avocation…
And anyone with a dog (or, in some cases, a cat, rabbit, guinea pig, bird, lizard or other friendly animal) can do it.
In a recent conversation with my better half, Eileen, who is also a hospice nurse, she mentioned how much the patients in her Alzheimer’s and dementia facilities love having animals visit them.
Local dog owners – who take the time to have their animals approved and trained for the job – visit the facilities in our town. And from what I’ve heard, it is the best part of the day for the patients and staff.
According to Eileen, no matter how advanced the patients’ memory loss is or how low functioning they are, they light up when the pups arrive. Patients who normally don’t react or interact with people reach out to the dogs, hold them and pet them.
The toughest part is getting the dogs away from them when the visit is over.
But for our entire town, which has many assisted living, long-term care and full-care facilities (it’s one of the dark sides of the retirement belt), there are only two dogs making visits. That’s hard to believe.
And the two dogs who make the visits are getting overwhelmed.
This is strange because the first thing you notice about any area with a lot of retired folks is that just about everyone has a dog. There is an endless parade in front of our house of people walking their dogs. How can we have only two dogs in this program?
I’m not sure what the situation is elsewhere, but my gut tells me it is probably the same. And I’m sure it’s because most don’t know how much of a difference a visit from a furry friend can make in a lonely person’s day or that this kind of program even exists.
Eileen says it’s like magic and that the dogs really do give her patients life. And if I know one thing about dog owners, it’s that they love to show off their pets.
It’s a win-win!
If you’ve had a loved one who has required long-term, in-patient care, you know what a difference a wet nose and wagging tail could make. And it gives the owners a reason to get out of the house and interact with others.
If you’re interested in helping to make a person’s day better, you might start by checking with your local Visiting Nurse Association or a local facility about how to get your pup up to speed and qualified to visit those who could use some affection.
Share your pet, and give yourself a boost in the process.