Lori Irby works at a retirement center in southern California and she accidentally stumbled upon an incredible idea for the residents there: kitten therapy! Irby was fostering kittens through the ASPCA and brought them in to work since they need to be fed so frequently. Once the residents learned of their presence, they became the attraction of the whole facility! By all accounts, weekly kitten therapy is drastically improving residents' moods and wellbeing.
Seniors have been hit harder by this pandemic than any other community. They have lost more people and been more isolated than many of us. But people need connection with other living beings. Additionally, many animals need care. It's a match made in heaven! That's why we are asking the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to allow Medicaid to help fund kitten therapy programs for people residing in long term care. Will you sign the petition to show them how many people love this idea?
The stories from the California retirement home are unbelievably touching. Residents and their families report that the seniors there are experiencing relief from depression and PTSD just by playing with kittens once a week! Even those individuals who've been showing signs of isolation and withdrawal are starting to come out of their rooms and smile again, wanting to participate in order to get some kitty-cat cuddle time. They have something to look forward to and a living being to love. That's something every person deserves.
And it's not just the humans who benefit -- the little kittens are blossoming, too! Without their mama cats around, these baby beings need regular care in order to get the food, water, and warmth they need in order to live another day. But getting all that care just from one human is just not realistic. Many animal shelters in the U.S. simply do not have enough staff, money, or physical space to house and care for all the baby animals that come through their doors. So connecting them with loving seniors is the perfect way to ensure all animals get the TLC they need.
The individual circumstances of seniors living in assisted living vary greatly, but a significant amount of them do not have any living family. Roughly two-thirds of the population living in long-term care relies on Medicaid, a state and federal partnership healthcare program in the United States. Living is more than just having a place to sleep; it's also about connection and love and community. People need to do more than just survive; ideally, we should all be thriving, no matter our age.
Countless companion animals are still left out in the literal cold right now. But seniors -- and a Medicaid program to bring kittens and puppies to state-run retirement centers -- could help. Why not give both fur babies and elderly folks a way to improve their lives?Shelters and nonprofits across the U.S. are responsible for caring for a massive amount of animals. Why not allow those animals who don't have their own family and home to be a source of joy for people living in assisted living? In this way, Medicaid could also help care for animals. It's a no brainer. Please join in asking for more kitten therapy programs to be covered by Medicaid so we can keep connecting seniors and kittens!