Being short-staffed at the time, an animal shelter in Arizona made an unexpected move to solve the problem, which was turning to senior care facility for help to take care of two orphaned kittens. “To some, it may seem peculiar at first: Residents who are in need of around-the-clock care themselves, given the task to care for these young kittens,” says Catalina Springs Memory Care Executive Director Sharon Mercer. “But there are skills, emotions, and needs that do not just leave a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. The desire to give love and receive love remains.”
The program is the initiative from health services director Rebecca Hamilton. Besides caring for the elders, the woman also volunteers to foster felines. She found taking care of cats rewarded her a lot of joy and happiness, and this urged her to share the pleasure with other seniors.
The initiative was successful, as the overall condition of both the kittens and the elderly has improved. The elders were asked to take care of two newborn cats, Turtle and Peaches, and both of the kittens have doubled in weight. As for patients of the memory care facility, “The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents,” says Mercer. The joy that the elderly get from bottle feeding, socializing, and cuddling needy newborns is immense – and the kittens feel grateful too.