A pilot program is helping senior citizens care for their pets.
CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions launched the program last month offering pet food and supplies to low-income, homebound seniors.
Seniors on a fixed income can struggle to afford nutritious meals for themselves and have to make a heartbreaking decision to feed themselves or their pet.
“You would be shocked at the number of folks who said .. I’d feed my animal over feeding myself and so if there is a creative way for us at CICOA to respond to that then we must do it,” said Tauhric Brown, President and CEO of CICOA.
A study by University of Michigan and AARP found that pets help seniors relieve stress and provide a sense of purpose. According to a survey, 55 percent of older adults ages 50 to 80 have at least one pet.
Because pets can play a vital role in client wellbeing, CICOA officials said they wanted to do something to help. They sent a survey to more than 1,400 Indianapolis seniors who receive CICOA’s home-delivered meals to better understand how many needed help for their pets and the response was overwhelming. Officials said seniors love their pets, but they are struggling to provide food and supplies.
The program is made possible through a $7,500 grant from Meals on Wheels America. The grant allows CICOA to help at least 100 clients this year.
The Indy nonprofit has already delivered 305 meals for cats and dogs to low-income, homebound seniors.
CICOA hopes to grow a pet program to help even more clients.